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Local officials attack photojournalist with stones

(CEPET/IFEX) - Jorge Peña Acosta, a photojournalist for "Diario de Yucatán", was attacked with stones by state government officials in Mérida, the capital city of Yucatán state, in southern Mexico, while he was taking photographs on assignment.

Peña Acosta told CEPET that on the night of 12 September 2008, residents living near a sports ground called the newspaper's editorial office to report that various vans were parked in the area, something that seemed suspicious to them.

They were there to participate in a football game, said Peña Acosta.

In Yucatán official government vehicles are prohibited from being used after hours, since their use is intended exclusively for activities related to government work. Peña Acosta's photos document the inappropriate use of public funds.

"I headed to the location and began to take photographs; crossing the sports ground a young person stopped me and asked what I was doing. I answered that I was covering the event and he said that I was not allowed to take pictures of the government vehicles."

"I noticed that other people were heading towards me, so I went to my car. There, I turned on my laptop to scan the photographs and suddenly I heard the sound of stones. They were large stones. I used my mobile to call the attorney's office to get them to send a patrol car, but no one came to help me, so I left", said Peña Acosta.

Ángel Noh Estrada, the publication coordinator for "Diario de Yucatán", mentioned that the paper is considering presenting a complaint about the incident to the Nation Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos). Peña Acosta was not injured by the stones, but they did damage his car.

He added that various people within the organisation have condemned the incident as an attack on freedom of expression, but the state government has taken no measures to punish those who attacked Peña Acosta.

CEPET condemns the attack suffered by Peña Acosta and urges authorities to begin an investigation that will sanction those responsible.

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