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Journalist threatened and punched following coverage criticising PAN senator

(CEPET/IFEX) - Journalist Víctor Rubén Hernández Guerrero, director of "Semana Ahora" weekly newspaper, has filed a criminal complaint in Durango, northern Mexico, against businessman Javier Quiñónez Ruiz, for assault and threats. He is also concerned that a senator belonging to the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) - Senator Rodolfo Dorador Pérez Gavilán, who represents the state of Durango in the national Senate - is behind the incident.

Hernández Guerrero told CEPET that on 8 November 2007 he was having breakfast in a restaurant when Quiñónez Ruiz - former president of the Mexican Chamber of the Construction Industry - approached him and started insulting him. "I asked him how he was doing, to which he replied, 'Here, greeting a fucking reporter.' Despite that, I suggested that we have a coffee, that we hadn't chatted in a while, but he told me, 'I want to warn you to correct the contents of what you publish.' He then hit me in the chest. When I reacted and turned to look at him, he punched me twice in the face," said Hernández Guerrero.

In addition to assaulting him, the businessman warned the journalist that "this was the beginning" and that he would pay him back the same way for "two other bills."

Javier Quiñónez Ruiz is the brother of Juan Quiñónez Ruiz, the substituting senator (senador suplente) for Senator Dorador Pérez Gavilán, about whom "Semana Ahora" has published its own critical coverage and reprinted that of other publications, concerning his alleged ties to drug traffickers. The journalist believes : Dorador Pérez Gavilán is behind the assault.

"The second week of September, 'Semana Ahora' reprinted a report by 'Proceso' magazine which mentioned that Senator Dorador Pérez Gavilán attended, along with drug trafficker Joaquín 'El Chapo' Guzmán Loera, the coronation of the queen of the 2007 Coffee and Guava Fair, in the Durango neighbourhood of Canelas," said Hernández Guerrero.

"I wrote that Senator Dorador Pérez Gavilán should explain why he was seen with a character like El Chapo," added the journalist, who confirmed that, according to "Proceso", the senator was there to crown the queen of the event.

"On 30 September, the State Committee of the PAN summoned Senator Dorador Pérez Gavilán to respond to the allegations, but he said they were lies and that there was a campaign against him. There's a recording of the session in which the senator makes a veiled threat, saying 'Be careful - journalists, cardinals, state leaders and even town councilors also die."

"This is why I think the attack is coming from Senator Dorador Pérez Gavilán, and I hold him responsible for anything that may happen to me or my family," commented the weekly's director, who stated the same thing in his criminal complaint and in his statement before the Durango State Human Rights Commission (Comisión Estatal de Derechos Humanos de Durango). He commented that the Commission "made fun of the incident, saying that the complaint would go nowhere, that they would declare themselves not competent to handle the complaint."

"The only thing I want is an investigation to determine who is behind the assault and threat, and so that they know that their actions will not go unpunished," concluded Hernández Guerrero.

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