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Woman journalist receives death threat after criticising company owned by member of Congress

(SPP/IFEX) - The SPP condemns the death threat received by Clyde Martínez, correspondent for "ABC Color" newspaper in the city of Pilar, and holds local authorities and Benjamín Macial Pasotti, a Colorado party member of the Congress's Chamber of Representatives, responsible for her safety.

Martínez has been reporting on obvious mistakes in the construction of containment walls in Pilar, built by Mecánica del Sur, a company owned by Pasotti. In her articles, Martínez had cited the opinion of the chief of Pilar's planning and public works department, who stated that the walls do not contain the appropriate percent of cement, likely the reason for their premature deterioration, some of which was noted even before the walls were officially turned over to the municipality.

Mecánica del Sur legal advisor Rodolfo Gutiérrez threatened Martínez with a lawsuit. On 27 June 2007, she also received a strange text message on her cellphone: "Life is like a play. So laugh, sing and cry. Dance, live your life, enjoy it before the curtain comes down," a clear threat, in SPP's opinion.

The threat to Martínez comes on the heels of a recent threat of legal action by Ruben Franco, a member of the Court of Appeals in Pilar, against "Ultima Hora" newspaper correspondent Mauricio Acosta; the threat is intended to undermine free expression and press freedom and ensure that certain crimes will remain unpunished (see IFEX alert of 26 June 2007).

The SPP supports Martínez, and condemns both of these attacks as unacceptable pressure on journalists, aimed at limiting the right to information and press freedom.

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