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Newspaper editor investigating drug-trafficking detained while on assignment in Guanajuato, beaten by police, faces charges

(CEPET/IFEX) - Jesús Lemus Barajas, editor of the La Piedad-based newspaper "El Tiempo", has been detained in Guanajuato state on charges of ties to drug-traffickers. Prior to being delivered to the Puentecilla prison in the city of Guanajuato, the journalist was held incommunicado for three days by Guanajuato state ministerial police, who beat him and seized his personal belongings. La Piedad is a city in Michoacán state, which borders Guanajuato state.

The directors of "El Tiempo" told CEPET CEPET that on 7 May 2008, Lemus Barajas traveled to the municipalities of Pénjamo and Acámbaro, in Guanajuato state, to investigate a drug-trafficking gang operating in an area overlapping the two states of Michoacán and Guanajuato.

According to one of the directors, Lemus Barajas said that he met with two informants, with whom he was traveling in his car when he was stopped by Guanajuato ministerial police officers and immediately taken into custody. He was then held incommunicado in an unknown location, where police beat him even though he identified himself as a journalist and explained that he was on assignment. The whereabouts of the journalist's personal belongings, including his car and camera, are unknown.

On 9 May, Lemus Barajas and his two informants were transferred to Puentecilla prison in the city of Guanajuato. Only then was he able to contact his family and colleagues. At the time he was admitted, no judges were on duty to hear his case. On 14 May a criminal court will determine if Lemus Barajas will be formally imprisoned on suspicion of associating with others to commit a crime, or if he will be set free for lack of evidence.

The newspaper directors expressed their concern over the decision of the Guanajuato authorities to detain the newspaper editor as an alleged drug-trafficker when he was simply performing his job as an investigative reporter.

For further information on previous harassment of "El Tiempo", see:

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