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Journalist, previously threatened over article, victim of alleged sabotage

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 31 January 2008, journalist Antonio Azalde, editor of the newspaper "El Guerrero", told IPYS that he suffered a motorcycle accident as a result of sabotage. Azalde alleges that the bolts that held the wheels in place were deliberately loosened, and that this was likely done in reprisal for articles he published about the arrest of a drug-dealer, Wilson Valcázar Piña, and the alleged connection of Casma mayor Luis Lomparte Monteza to him. The journalist suffered wounds to face and body.

According to Azalde's articles, the house where Valcázar Piña was detained and the drugs seized belongs to the mayor. His newspaper also reported on Valcázar Piña's irregular release, noting that Valcázar Piña is brother-in-law to the mayor's wife. His release was allegedly ordered by a judge who has since been suspended and is being investigated by the the judiciary's supervisory body, Oficina de Control de la Magistratura.

On 6 January, Azalde was threatened and beaten by the mayor's brother-in-law and bodyguard, Josse Salazar Mezarina.

Azalde has requested protection from the local government several times, without result. Casma is located in the Ancash region, in northwestern Peru.

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