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Peruvian journalist reports being kidnapped by self-defence groups

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 28 August 2012, journalist Antolín Pinedo Golac, director of the Radio Tropicana news programme "La Palabra", reported that 20 days earlier he had been kidnapped and held for a day and a half by "ronderos" (members of local self-defence groups) in the district of Soritor, Moyobamba province, in the San Martín region of eastern Peru.

According to the journalist, the kidnapping was directed by the self-defence group's president, Régulo Peralta Delgado.

The ronderos, who were from the communities of Tangumí and Cementerio, summoned Pinedo Golac to talk to him about comments that were broadcast on his news programme. They then kidnapped him when he arrived for the meeting.

The ronderos justified the kidnapping, which took place from the evening of 8 August to the afternoon of 9 August, by saying that the journalist had criticised the self-defence group, calling it "spurious", to which they took offence.

The journalist claims he was forced to sign a document committing to issue an apology on the news programme over a three day span. If he failed to do so, he would have to pay three thousand soles (approx. $US1150) in reparations and be "punished" by ronderos from 60 different bases.

While being held, Pinedo Golac managed to get in touch with a relative who called the National Police. A prosecutor and a police officer went to where the journalist was being held and secured his release.

The journalist has filed a formal complaint against the ronderos and the self-defence group, including the governor of Soritor, Augusto Jiménez, in the complaint. Pinedo has also accused Eliseo Álava Portocarrero, president of the local defence group, of inciting the physical and psychological assault by forcing him to kneel down and apologize for his criticisms.

Meanwhile, the regional councillor for the province of Moyobamba, Marco Cruzalegui, and the president of the self-defence groups, Demetrio Núñez Guarbido, have committed to ensure that this kind of action is avoided in the future.

Several cases of arbitrary and illegal actions carried out by ronderos against the press have been reported previously in the area. This has become a new type of freedom of expression violation.

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