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Jailed newspaper editor's home searched by soldiers

(RSF/IFEX) - On 31 July 2008, a group of soldiers searched the home of imprisoned newspaper editor Jesús Lemus Barajas. Lemus Barajas, the editor of the daily "El Tiempo", which is based in La Piedad in the southwestern state of Michoacán, has been held in pre-trial custody since 15 May on a drug trafficking charge.

Lemus Barajas's wife, Martha Pérez, told RSF that about 20 soldiers arrived at their home on 31 July and said they had to search the house as a follow-up to an anonymous tip. She let them in although they offered no other explanation and had no search warrant.

The soldiers searched the house thoroughly and took photographs but refused to say what they were looking for. They questioned Pérez about her activities and the activities of other members of the family, including those of her husband. She told them about her husband's detention and the charges against him.

"El Tiempo" editor Magdalena Pérez told RSF that two of the newspaper's distributors were recently questioned by the army. She said searches were also carried out at the homes of two men who were arrested along with Lemus Barajas.

Lemus Barajas was detained on 7 May in Cuerámaro, in the neighbouring state of Guanajuato, while he was reporting on drug trafficking. The two individuals who were accompanying him were also detained. All three men underwent intense interrogations following their arrest. They were placed in pre-trial detention on 15 May and were subsequently moved to a high-security federal prison in Puente Grande, in the state of Jalisco, on 28 May, after being categorised as "dangerous suspects." In an 18 May letter addressed to the media, Lemus Barajas insisted he is innocent.

The frequent settling of scores between the police and drug cartels suggest that Lemus Barajas may have been arrested because his investigation into drug trafficking was creating a problem for the local authorities.

The police officers who arrested Lemus Barajas and his two sources are due to appear for the second time before a criminal court in Puente Grande on 11 August.

Updates the Lemus Barajas case:

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