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Journalist assaulted, seriously injured by police officers in Sinaloa

(CEPET/IFEX) - Luis Fernando Nájera Pérez, a reporter for "El Diario", in Los Mochis, and the weekly "Ríodoce", was assaulted and detained by municipal police officers in Ahome, Sinaloa state, in northwestern Mexico. The assault resulted in injuries to Nájera Pérez's throat and one of his eyes. The incident took place while Nájera Pérez was covering a police operation in Los Mochis. As a result of his injuries, the journalist will require three months of medical treatment, which could include surgery on his throat.

According to a written transcript that Nájera Pérez provided to CEPET, the assault took place at 12:20 a.m. (local time) on 25 July 2009 when an altercation took place between people in two vehicles at the intersection of Higueras and Álamos streets in the Stase IV neighbourhood of Los Mochis. Several minutes after the altercation began, and after a number of police officers had ignored what was going on, a municipal police patrol arrived on the scene. The journalist approached the police officers to inquire into what was taking place and, in response, he was punched in the left eye and grabbed by the neck to immobilise him.

Nájera Pérez was then handcuffed, detained and held incommunicado. In addition, municipal police officers continued to grab him by the neck and hit him in the abdomen, while accusing him of having broken the windows of a car belonging to police commander Raúl Alberto Muñoz Enrique.

The journalist was later taken before a judge and explained that he had been detained simply for asking a question about the police operation. The judge then ordered Nájera Pérez's release.

A police report signed by officers Rafael Estrada Esquer and José A. Vizcarra López said that, on the day in which the incident took place, they were outside the Municipal Public Security and Transit Department's headquarters, after having completed their shift, when they were advised that an individual was breaking the windows of a car belonging to commander Muñoz Enrique. They said they then began to carry out the police operation that ended at the intersection of Higuera and Álamos streets. "The police report says that I arrived on the scene and began assaulting and pushing them (the police officers) in order to free the person they were detaining, and that I said I was the 'maximum authority', the 'fourth power'," Nájera Pérez said.

On 27 July, Nájera Pérez went to the Public Ministry to file a criminal complaint for injuries sustained. He also filed a formal complaint to the Municipal Public Security and Transit Department's Honour and Justice Commission. The national and state human rights commissions are also aware of the case.

"They tell me that my vocal cords are seriously damaged due to compression. I will need three months of treatment, and possibly surgery," the reporter said.

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