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Journalist receives death threat, possibly for reporting on issues related to the army's high command; IPYS correspondent in Loreto receives death threat

(IPYS/IFEX) - From 9 to 14 September 2008, Américo Zambrano, a journalist for "Caretas" magazine investigative unit, received death threats via both his work telephone and his mobile. Zambrano said that, based on the voice, he believes that all of the threats were made by the same person, who also warned him that he is being followed. The incidents took place in Lima.

The journalist has not ruled out the possibility that the threats may be coming from groups linked to the army. On 11 September, Zambrano reported on a series of complaints and conspiracies that have allegedly brought the Peruvian Army's Commander in Chief, Edwin Donayre, into conflict with other army leaders.

On the night of 11 September, the journalist noticed that poison had been left at the door of the apartment block where he lives. His dog is dying as a result of having eaten it. Zambrano found this incident suspicious as he is the only tenant in the building who owns a pet.

Zambrano is the principal investigator of the Sánchez Paredes family, which has been accused of being involved in drug trafficking. He has been investigating the Sánchez Paredes case for more than a year and has received two prestigious awards because of his work (for information in Spanish, see: http://www.ipys.org/premio11.shtml ).

IPYS condemns the threats against Zambrano and calls on the authorities to provide protection to the journalist.

In a separate incident, on 15 September, journalist Mary Pérez Cora, an IPYS correspondent in the Loreto region, received a death threat after she reported on irregularities in the functioning of the judiciary.

The journalist was threatened after she revealed on the La Voz de la Selva radio station's "LVS Noticias" programme that Judge Elena Vásquez Ortega, a magistrate for the Loreto Superior Court's Third Criminal Chamber, granted parole to two men who had been sentenced for drug trafficking. The men were being held at the Maynas prison and their sentencing did not allow for the option of parole. The "LVS Noticias" team obtained two documents that revealed the judge's decision.

While Pérez was on air reporting on Vásquez Ortega's ruling, the news programme's director, Jhon Vargas, answered a telephone call in which a man with a Colombian accent said, "You have been talking about this issue since Friday. Shut up. Don't mess with Dr. Elena Vásquez (. . .). Tell Mary Pérez to stop sticking her nose in our affairs. She had better shut up or I'll make her disappear."

Pérez has, on several occasions, been threatened for her work, but she has never before received a direct death threat.

The radio station is evaluating the possibility of asking for protection for Pérez.

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