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Journalist receives death threats for reporting on government employee's alleged corruption

(CEPET/IFEX) - The following is an 18 June 2007 statement from CEPET, an interim member of IFEX:

Death threats against columnist

Mexico, 18 June 2007 - Columnist Francisco Rodríguez announced today that he has received two death threats in the last two weeks from the same public employee. The source of the threats, according to a column Rodríguez published on 18 June 2007, is Lino Arturo Vera Pérez, an employee of the National Statistics Institute (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INEGI). Vera Pérez is the institute's administrative coordinator. He has apparently instructed someone close to him to kill Rodríguez.

Rodríguez is a columnist for more than a dozen newspapers throughout the country, as well as the host of a radio news programme broadcast by 27 different radio stations. He lives in Mexico City, and received the threats by e-mail.

Rodríguez said that after the first threat, which arrived on 2 June, he checked with his own sources, who confirmed that the threats were genuine, and found out that Vera Pérez had put a supporter of his, Wenceslao Sánchez, in charge of carrying out the threat. In his 6 June column, Rodríguez wrote, "I acknowledge receiving a threat to me and my family, from chartered accountant Lino Vera Pérez. I know that the person designated to perpetrate this act of aggression is Wenceslao Sánchez, who only knows how to abuse the women working at INEGI, and is in a position to do so. I am taking appropriate measures to deal with this case."

In his 18 June column, Rodríguez commented, "Like most people, I'd like to die of old age in my own bed. So, I'd be grateful if someone would put Wenceslao in preventive custody."

The threats were made following the publication of articles in which Rodríguez commented on Vera Pérez's corruption and use of violence, as well as the control he exercises, even over public employees holding positions of higher rank than he does.

CEPET urges the authorities to investigate these incidents and to prevent any act of aggression that would endanger the journalist or his family members.

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