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Assailants break into journalist's home in Durango

(CEPET/IFEX) - 19 October 2011 - Early in the morning on 14 October 2011, unknown individuals broke into the home of Betsy Hidalgo Rosales, a journalist for the Lobo Information System of the Durango Autonomous University.

The incident occurred in the city of Durango, in northern Mexico, while the journalist and her mother were asleep. The intruders locked the two women in one of the rooms while they went through their belongings.

"According to official reports, the assailants were in the house for a few hours. They raided the fridge, turned on all the lights and rummaged through my bedroom. They took my laptop and a memory stick, some of my ID and personal photos, as well as some underwear and my perfume. They also took my mother's wallet and left some mens' shoes on one of the beds," Hidalgo Rosales told CEPET.

The journalist added that the intruders took her car, even though her mother's vehicle is a newer model and the keys were in the ignition.

The 27-year-old journalist also hosts a radio programme and often analyses political issues in her work. Three days before the break in, she had posted on Twitter an article published in the "Siglo de Durango" newspaper. In the article, journalist Noel Pérez had questioned the appointment of an individual named Alejandro Castro to the Colosio Foundation.

A few months before that, Hidalgo Rosales had also used Twitter to post a message questioning the good financial standing of a media outlet run by a relative of the state governor, when a number of others have had to shut down because of financial difficulties.

The Durango state assistant prosecutor, Javier Castrejón, told the journalist that because of the intruders' unusual behaviour, the incident did not appear to be a mere robbery but an act of intimidation directed at Hidalgo Rosales in connection with her journalistic work.

The journalist filed a complaint with the Durango State Prosecutor's Office but so far there have been no developments or arrests.

CEPET called for a prompt and thorough investigation so that impunity does not reign in the case and the authorities can identify if the attack was linked to Hidalgo Rosales' journalistic work. CEPET reiterated the freedom of expression rapporteur's assertion that attacks on journalists and the media in retaliation for their work are an attack on society because they jeopardise citizens' right to be informed.

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