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Journalists who investigated Chosica mayor threatened and harassed

(IPYS/IFEX) - Journalists Elizabeth Salinas, Raúl Vento and Rosanna Rivera, of the weekly newspaper "Conoeste", based in Chosica, eastern Lima, told IPYS that since 2004 they have been the victims of threats, surveillance and persecution by members of the district municipality of Lurigancho-Chosica. Mayor Luis Bueno Quino is reportedly behind the threats and intimidation.

The journalists provided IPYS with photographs that prove they have been followed. The owners of two local newspaper kiosks told IPYS that municipal workers had threatened them with reprisals if they continued to sell the weekly.

According to the three journalists, trustworthy sources warned them that there could be attempts on their lives by people who were recently released from prison, in reprisal for having published an investigation on the Chosica mayor in the latest edition of "Conoeste".

"Conoeste" has made it its duty to investigate the mayor and has published several reports denouncing his alleged crimes. One of the key investigations links the mayor to the death of journalist Consuelo Ruiz. She was killed on 7 January 2004, two days after she announced that, on the next edition of her radio programme, she would report on several cases of corruption involving the municipality.

The police have also accused Vento of being involved in an alleged plot against the mayor simply because Vento published the corruption allegations in "Conoeste". According to the police, the publication of the articles is evidence of Vento's alleged intent to commit a crime against Bueno Quino.

After a previous incident at a police station, on 22 January 2007 "Conoeste" reporters Salinas and Cinthia Flores attempted in vain to file a complaint for harassment against the municipal comptroller and a member of the Unidad Nacional political party, to which the mayor belongs. The journalists did not receive any protection or guarantees for their safety.

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