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Journalists assaulted, one injured by police while covering protest in Caracas

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 6 December 2007, members of the Metropolitan Police harassed and assaulted journalists working for the television stations Globovisión and Televen. The journalists were covering a protest held by the Fuerza Bolivariana de Motorizados (an organization of transportation workers who sympathise with the national government), as the demonstrators attempted to set fire to a crane in Plaza Venezuela, Caracas.

The police were trying to restrain the demonstrators when Larry Arvelo, an assistant for Globovisión who was riding his motorbike from the site of the protest to the station's offices, stopped to pick up a reporter's videotape. A policeman blocked his way, pushed him to the ground and hit him for complaining. Camera operator attempted to help Arévalo, but policemen also hit him and damaged his videorecorder. They also assaulted Frank Díaz, a camera operator's assistant for Globovisión.

Arvelo was taken to the Metropolitan Police's seventh regional command headquarters. He was then transferred to a hospital for treatment of his injuries. The commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, José Núñez, informed Arvelo that he was mistaken for a protester by the officer who assaulted him.

At the same event, another group of policemen harassed Televen reporter Oliver Fernández and camera operator Luis Contreras, to stop them from taping the demonstration.

The Attorney General's Office is already investigating the two incidents. Metropolitan Police Commander General Juan Romero Figueroa apologized for the incidents and promised to punish those responsible.

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