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Reporter harassed by former judge, his vehicle burned over photographs of drunk-diving incident

(CEPET/IFEX) - Juan Gabriel Reyes Robledo, a reporter and photographer for "5inco" newspaper, has filed a complaint that his vehicle was recently burned and that he has been the victim of harassment since mid-2007 by a former judge in the municipality of Río Bravo, in Tamaulipas state on Mexico's northeastern border. "El 5inco", or "El Cinco" as it is also known, is published in Reynosa, the largest city in Tamaulipas, and Reyes Robledo is its correspondent in Río Bravo.

Reyes Robledo explained that on 25 May 2007 he went to cover a local car crash and when he tried to take photographs of the vehicle, he was insulted and assaulted by Manuel Montemayor Cepeda, who at that time was a judge (juez calificador de Seguridad Pública) for Río Bravo, who had been driving the car that had crashed into a tree, apparently while he was under the influence of alcohol. The insults and the assault were witnessed by police, who avoided intervening in the incident, said Reyes Robledo.

Since then he has received several threats. On 19 November, his car was the target of an attack with a Molotov cocktail. "Since it was at 5:00 a.m., my neighbours woke me to let me know that my 2000 Ford Focus was burning; I got up immediately and my neighbours and I managed to put the fire out by dousing it with bowls of water. The back door was damaged," he told CEPET. He filed a complaint about the incident the same day with the authorities, and that night, Montemayor Cepeda reimbursed him for the damages to the car and promised not to bother the reporter any more.

However, on 25 November, his wife's car was also the target of an attack. "I was awoken at 5:00 a.m. by a loud explosion; when I looked outside, I realised that my wife's car, a 1995 Chrysler LHS, was burning. I managed to put the fire out . . . while waiting for the firefighters to arrive. It was determined that the Chrysler had been set on fire in the same manner, using a Molotov cocktail. For that reason, I suspect that this too was the work of Montemayor Cepeda, given that a few days prior, he had threatened me by telephone," explained Reyes Robledo.

The reporter has filed formal complaints before the First and Third offices of the Public Ministry (agencias primera y tercera del Ministerio Público) in Río Bravo, for common assault and damage to property. The second complaint was later withdrawn when the former judge reimbursed the reporter for damages.

CEPET urges the authorities to investigate the incident and take appropriate measures to end the acts of aggression against Reyes Robledo.

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