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Journalist brutally beaten, threatened with murder by PRI militants in Chiapas

(CEPET/IFEX) - Militants of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI) beat and threatened to kill reporter Edi Darinel López Zacarías on 22 January 2008, presumably for his articles about illegalities and corruption involving the assailants' relatives.

The assaults occurred in Unión Juárez, a city in the state of Chiapas, in Mexico's southeast. After the assault, the reporter, who works for "El Orbe", "Diario de Chiapas" and "Chiapas Hoy" newspapers, as well as for ASICH news agency, had to be taken to hospital where he was treated for a fractured cheekbone and damage to an eye that caused ocular edema.

According to the journalist's brother, the journalist recognised his assailants: Milton Ramírez García - son of Noe Ramírez Chávez, the former president of the local PRI organization, and Guadalupe García Muñoz, the ex-candidate for mayor for the PRI in the last municipal elections respectively - and Fernando de Jesús Sánchez Gómez, Walberto Martínez López, Luis Mérida Roblero and Gilberto Alexander Mérida Roblero.

After being treated, the reporter filed a complaint with the public ministry (Ministerio Público), which initiated an investigation of the assailants for belonging to a gang, injuring another individual and uttering threats, according to the 25 January 2008 edition of "El Orbe".

The reporter had published news about alleged acts of vandalism, corruption, fraud, homicide, organised crime and illegal earnings by the Ramírez García y Ramírez Chávez families.

"You interfered with my family by posing indiscreet questions that affected my mother's political life" and "because of your frigging articles my boss isn't the president of the municipal party any more," they said.

This is not the first time that the reporter has been beaten by these same assailants. On 25 December 2007 he was also beaten; he reported that incident to the authorities. One of his assailants in the 25 December assaults, Gilberto Alexander Mérida Roblero, was arrested, and accused the Ramírez García family of being the masterminds of that assault. He was released by the police a few days after the assault.

CEPET condemns these acts of aggression and urges the authorities to ensure that the assailants are detained and punished in accordance with the law. To allow their crimes to go unpunished would send a dreadful message about freedom of expression and society's right to be informed.

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