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Mob vandalises newspaper office in Huancayo

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 30 November 2011, the newsroom of the "El Sol de los Andes" newspaper in Huancayo was attacked by a mob that caused significant damage in reprisal for a series of reports that linked criminal gangs to police officers. The members of the crowd were alleged relatives of the police officers involved. The incident took place in the Junín region of central Peru.

Gino Márquez, the assistant editor of the newspaper, which is distributed in three Andean regions, told IPYS that very early in the morning around 15 individuals who were led by a journalist who works for another newspaper burst into the paper's offices, surprising the few workers who were there at the time. They burned a banner and damaged doors and furniture. Provincial news editor Rocío Meza was so affected by the incident that she passed out.

Márquez said the attack was a reprisal against investigative articles the newspaper had been publishing over the previous week about links between a gang that steals vehicles and murders taxi drivers and a group of police officers. He believes this is the reason why both the police and the Prosecutor's Office initially refused to intervene.

The newspaper's last report, published on 1 December, criticized Junín's chief of police for failing to carry out the necessary procedures after another taxi driver, the fifteenth, was murdered on 25 November, and instead organized a party. Curiously, the murdered taxi driver was also a police officer.

Pablo O'Brian, the editor-in-chief of "El Sol de los Andes", told IPYS that he would hold the police responsible for anything that might happen to Oscar Rodríguez, the journalist who directed the investigations and whose byline was on the articles in question, or any other member of his team of journalists.

IPYS filed a formal complaint regarding the incident with the ombudsman in Junín and has been in contact with the Ministry of the Interior, which gave assurances that it would look into the case.
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