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Journalist's radio programme cancelled after he criticises local authorities; arrest warrant issued for editor found to be "in contempt of court"

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 28 November 2008, Radio Atlántida's news programme "Tribuna Libre" was cancelled as it was being broadcast live. According to programme director and host Richard Panduro Cashú, the cancellation was linked to pressure exerted by Iván Vásquez, the regional president of Loreto, northeastern Peru. Panduro had criticised Vásquez in his programme.

Panduro told IPYS that while he was on the air, station manager Jorge Gonzáles informed him that the programme had been cancelled because of a debt he has with the radio station. Panduro confirmed that he has this debt. However, he believes that the real reason for the cancellation was linked to his criticisms of Vásquez's administration.J

Panduro noted that the station owner's brother is the regional president's adviser.

A Loreto regional government official, Armando Murrieta García, ruled out any possibility that the government had played a role in the decision.

In a separate incident, on 21 November, Judge José Málaga Pérez of Arequipa's 1st Provisional Criminal Court, in southern Peru, decided to hold journalist Mabel Cáceres in contempt of court and issued a warrant for her arrest. Cáceres is editor of the weekly "El Búho". José Márquez Villalobos, another journalist who works for the weekly, is in the same situation.

Cáceres told IPYS that she was summoned before the court on two occasions. The first time she requested to be told what she was accused of before appearing, and on the second occasion she was not given any time between the summons and the date she was meant to appear. Nevertheless, on 26 November she was notified of the arrest warrant.

The complaint against Cáceres was filed by the director of San Agustin University's Post-Graduate School in Arequipa, lawyer Percy Chocano. A journalistic investigation published by "El Búho" accused Chocano of irregularly drawing several state salaries. Based on official documents, the investigation revealed that the university had inappropriately granted Chocano a sabbatical leave, and that he used the time to work at the Academy of Magistrates in Lima. Chocano also hired himself as a professor at the university's post-graduate school, of which he is the director, awarding himself an exorbitant salary and travelling there during the weekends.

Every time he was mentioned in an edition of "El Búho" during 2008, Chocano filed a different complaint for defamation. He has so far filed three cases against Cáceres. Other university officials, such as Chancellor Rolando Cornejo and legal advisor Miguel Sierra, have also filed complaints against "El Búho".

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