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Head of football club assaults photojournalist

(MISA/IFEX) - The Mozambican chapter of the regional press freedom body MISA has denounced a physical assault by a leading sports figure against a photojournalist.

According to a press release from the Sofala provincial nucleus of MISA Mozambique, the incident happened on a football field in the central city of Beira on 21 July 2007, when Abel Mamad Haider, the chairman of the Macufi and Benfica sports club, attempted to attack the referee in a match that his team had lost.

Benfica lost to its rival, Ferroviariio da Beira, by two goals to one, and Haider lost his temper with the referee, Joaquim Manuel, accusing him of bias. When Haider attempted to strike the referee, Jorge Ataide, a photographer for the Beira daily "Diario de Mocambique", tried to photograph the incident.

Haider responded by taking out his anger on the photographer, kicking him, and causing Ataide to drop his digital camera. The disk in the camera was damaged, and Ataide lost all his photographs from the football matches held that day.

MISA Mozambique protested that by intimidating a journalist and preventing him from doing his job, Haider violated the press freedom clauses of the Mozambican constitution and the country's press law, which stipulates that journalists must be allowed to go about their lawful business without fear of violence and intimidation.

The Sofala nucleus of MISA Mozambique urged the authorities to take measures against Haider, and against all "other acts that violate the right of citizens to information".

The Sofala nucleus also protested an attempt by Celina Henriques, the press attaché of Sofala provincial governor Alberto Vaquina, to dictate which journalists the public television station, TVM, may send to cover events involving Vaquina and the provincial government.

TVM worker Candida Duarte had complained that she was under pressure from Henriques not to cover such official events, and that Henriques had even rung up the Beira TVM office twice to demand that TVM send somebody else rather than her. Duarte says she has no idea why Henriques has taken this attitude.

MISA Mozambique regarded Henriques' behaviour as "strange", and urged the provincial authorities to grant all media professionals the same access to official events, without any discrimination.

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