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"El Horizante" journalist assaulted, detained overnight by police officers

(CEPET/IFEX) - Santos Vera Gil, a journalist for the "El Horizante" newspaper, reported that he was arbitrarily detained on 7 September 2009 in retaliation for information he published on abuses committed by the Agua Dulce Municipal Police, in the state of Veracruz, on the Gulf of Mexico coast.

Vera Gil said that around 6:00 p.m. (local time) he was with a neighbour in the Kilómetro Dos residential area, when three police officers approached him. One of them, identified as Luis Alberto Vinagre, attacked him from behind, holding onto his neck and pushing him to the ground, while the two other officers, Jorge García Rodríguez and Bernardo Osorio, hit him repeatedly and then handcuffed him.

The police officers then put Vera Gil in a patrol car and drove him to a clinic, where a medical certificate was issued stating that the journalist was intoxicated. Vera Gil said that he had had a beer, but that he had not committed any crime.

The police left the clinic and took the journalist to the municipal police station where they locked him up. Vera Gil asked what the reason for the detention was, but the officers would only say that a complaint had been filed against him.

The reporter was detained for 16 hours, from 7:00 p.m. on 7 September until 11:00 a.m. the next day. He was released after paying a 300 peso (approx. US$22) fine for "contempt of authorities" and another 50 pesos (approx. US$4) for the cost of the medical report.

Vera Gil holds the Agua Dulce police chief, Martín Pilar Rodríguez, responsible for his illegal detention. He said that other police officers heard Officer García Rodríguez say over the radio, "Tell the chief we have a present for him", as Vera Gil was being driven to the station.

The journalist told CEPET that about three months earlier he had filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor's Office against Pilar Rodríguez. Police officers had warned him of the police chief's intention to imprison him and falsely accuse him of involvement in criminal activities, all because Pilar Rodríguez was upset over several articles published by the journalist.

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