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Photojournalist assaulted by party official; hospital guard attacks several journalists

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 29 May 2011, photojournalist Miguel Mejía, of "La República" newspaper, was verbally and physically attacked by Paul Ander Calero Gonzáles, legal representative of Fuerza 2011, the party of presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori.

Mejía was covering a health campaign aimed at low-income citizens which was taking place in a school located in the Independencia district, north of Lima. The journalist was trying to corroborate allegations that the medical prescriptions that were being handed out had an image of Fujimori printed on them. Mejía identified himself as a journalist when he went to the school to photograph the classrooms where the prescriptions were being distributed. While he was doing this, he was accosted by a man who threatened to take away his camera. Mejía ignored him but the man pushed him and punched him in the forehead. "He tried to head butt me, but as I covered my face with the camera, he smashed his face against it breaking his own brow bone," Mejía told IPYS.

The journalist managed to get away and headed to a police station to file a complaint. There he came across Calero Gonzáles, who was also filing a complaint for alleged assault. The party official continued to threaten the journalist.

In a separate incident, on 28 May, several journalists were assaulted by an employee of the Shao Lin security company, assigned to the Cajamarca Regional Hospital, in northern Peru. The reporters were covering a story on the kidnapping of an individual who was injured while trying to escape from his captors by jumping out of the trunk of his car.

Luis Mego Díaz, Christian Rojas Silva and Jaime Herrera Atalaya - América TV, Canal N and Frecuencia Latina correspondents respectively - , and John de la Puente Vílchez, a reporter for TV Norte, had gone to the hospital to check on the condition of the young man.

The journalists were allowed in by the victim's relatives and the head of the emergency's unit in the hospital, Dr. Miguel Gaitán Cabellos. However, the guard, whose surname is Vásquez, intercepted Mego Díaz and tried to shove him out of the way. He then went the other journalists who had already seen the patient and spat at Christian Rojas when he began to videotape him.

The guard also struck the other journalists who tried to come to the aid of their colleagues, and tried to throw Herrera Atalaya's camera on the floor.

IPYS condemns the attacks against the journalists.

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