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Journalists assaulted, newspaper's circulation impeded, following coverage of Chosica mayor's alleged sexual abuse of employees

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 15 July 2008, municipal workers in Chosica threatened and hurled insults at journalists Raúl Vento, Roxana Rivera and Elizabeth Salinas, of the "Conoeste" weekly newspaper, as they were handing out copies of the 13 July edition of the daily "El Comercio". "El Comercio"'s 13 July edition contained witness testimonies accusing the municipality's mayor, Luis Bueno Quino, of abuse of power, sexual harassment and the transmission of contagious illnesses, alleging that he had forced several municipal workers to have sexual intercourse with him or face losing their jobs, despite knowing that he is a carrier of HIV. Chosica is located east of Lima.

The three journalists, who have been investigating the case involving the mayor for their weekly since 2006, and who have been attacked on several occasions because of those investigations, told IPYS that the municipality's security and administrative workers seized the bags with the copies of the newspaper from them.

The "El Comercio" revelations angered the district's population and led to a demonstration in front of the town hall buildings on 16 July, with demands that the mayor resign from his position. During the demonstration, workers who support the mayor, along with a group of thugs, assaulted reporters who were covering the event. Journalists identified Francesco Ramoni, Martín León and another man called "Ivan" among those responsible for the assaults.

The "Conoeste" journalists also reported that, on 16 July, members of the municipal police (Serenazgo) intimidated newsstand owners in an attempt to prevent them from displaying newspapers that had reproduced the "El Comercio" accusations. The sale of those papers was also prohibited at several newsstands.

Updates the Vento, Rivera and Salinas case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91557

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