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Mexican journalist beaten after receiving threats

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 4 December 2012 - Three weeks after receiving threats from unidentified individuals warning him that he should stop talking about officials of the state attorney general's office, Milton Martínez, director of the online media outlet and a correspondent for Televisa in Saltillo, Coahuila, was attacked and injured by three armed men, two of whom had their faces covered.

The attack took place at about 1 pm on 4 December, when the journalist left the offices, located two blocks from the Coahuila Palacio de Gobierno. He was going to take his car to pick up his children at school, but a grey vehicle missing its license plates cut him off. The three men pushed him to his knees and hit him in the head with the butt of a gun and a metal bar.

The attack attracted the attention of other people, causing the men to flee, taking Martínez's mobile phone with them.

This attack is not an isolated incident. On 4 March 2011, while covering a conflict between police and criminals, the reporter was detained for about two hours by officials from the state prosecutor's office, who threatened Martínez with death and physically assaulted him.

Moreover, on 12 November 2012, the journalist received four anonymous threats in which he was told to stop talking about the state attorney general's office, after he had reported on alleged irregularities in that government office.

The Coahuila attorney general, Homero Ramos, who met with Martínez's family, promised to investigate the case and punish those responsible for the attack. According to the latest report, the journalist was still unconscious and there is a possibility that he suffered a skull fracture.

ARTICLE 19 condemns this attack and finds it worrying that the repeated actions of people who seek to impede journalistic work continue to go unpunished. The government of Coahuila, especially the attorney general's office, is obliged to clarify what happened and punish the people responsible for this attack. The organisation also considers unacceptable any attempt to shelve this case, as was done with the 2011 attack by police officers on Martínez.

On 25 September, Governor Rubén Moreira, after signing his name to a document on cooperation for the protection of human rights defenders and journalists, warned that he would not tolerate threats or violence aimed at obscuring the truth and weakening the media.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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