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Journalist accused of participating in land takeover, sent to prison

(OLA/IFEX) - On 5 November 2010, in the province of Coronel Portillo, Ucayali, Peru, Criminal Judge Jesús Morote Mescua ordered the detention and incarceration of Eduardo Cenepo Eljarrat, a journalist who manages the "Melodía de la Noticia" programme on radio Melodía. Prosecutor Agustín López Cruz, who was criticised by Cenepo and filed a complaint against the journalists for aggravated land seizure.

The journalist was detained outside the radio station's offices on 5 November at 6:30pm and taken to the Colonel Portillo prison by the judicial police.

On 19 October, a group of farmers invaded a piece of land that had been abandoned. They were later evacuated from the area and detained by police. The prosecutor accused them of seizing the land. Among those detained were a 12-year-old minor and a 70-year-old elderly person. Cenepo wrote about the incident and criticized the public prosecutor for allowing it to take place. He also presented a habeas corpus action against López calling for the community members to be freed.

López, who works for one of the Coronel Portillo provincial attorney's offices, changed his complaint based on comments by the land owner, Felicia Mallqui Buendía, and accused the journalist of encouraging people to invade the land. This happened despite a memo that was sent to the Government of Ucayali from the community that stated that Dionisia Mallqui Buendia, Felicia's sister, told them that the land was abandoned and that they could occupy it while coming to a financial agreement with the owner.

In an interview with OLA, Cenepo said that the prosecutor was acting in retaliation for the criticisms the journalist had voiced about his behaviour. He also said that had not been notified of the charges against him.

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