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Arson suspected in fire at Peruvian radio station

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 8 February 2013, an alleged arson attack on Radio Paraíso in Olmos burnt down its equipment, leaving it off the air and with losses of approximately 15 thousand nuevos soles (approx. US$5800). This was the second attack against the radio station in 15 days. The station's manager believes the latest attack is connected to the local mayor, Willy Serrato Puse. The incident took place in the Lambayeque region of northern Peru.

José Luis Cobeñas Ipanaqué, manager of Radio Paraíso 92.1 FM, told IPYS that the first attack against the station took place during the early hours of 23 January, when unidentified persons tore the roof of the broadcasting station located on a hill and, although they did not take anything, damaged a stabilizer.

The recent fire burnt down a 300 watt transmitter, a transformer, a stabilizer and cables, among other equipment. Cobeñas has accused a man named José Soplapuco Tesen as the alleged perpetrator. Soplapuco monitors other nearby radio stations and was seen running on the day of the fire. He was detained that same day by the local police but then released for lack of evidence.

Cobeñas believes that the attack against Radio Paraíso was caused because it broadcast a news program, produced by Radio Kaliente of Chiclayo, that was critical of the performance of the mayor of Olmos, Willy Serrato Puse. Meanwhile, in a notarized letter, Serrato Puse denied any responsibility, arguing that the incident was fabricated to damage his political image.

IPYS interviewed the deputy prosecutor of the Corporate Provincial Prosecutor's Office of Olmos, Máximo Medina Lucano, who said he is awaiting the results of some chemical tests that will establish if what happened at the Radio Paraíso transmission station was arson. He also said that José Soplapuco will be summoned to make a statement on 5 March as part of the investigation.

IPYS condemns the attack against Radio Paraíso and requests the relevant authorities investigate the events diligently and sanction those responsible.

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