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Radio journalist beaten by crowd angered by his linking of local resident to Colombian guerrilla group

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 6 February 2008, journalist Rafael Mejía was beaten by a group of 15 people while he was broadcasting his radio programme "Para estar allá", in which he reads and comments upon the news as printed by local newspapers. His programme is carried on the station Radio Mara Ritmo 900 AM of Maracaibo, in the state of Zulia, northwestern Venezuela.

Mejía told IPYS that 15 persons entered the broadcasting booth pretending to be members of the community wishing to comment on a news topic. He was preparing to interview them when they pulled out sticks from their bags and proceeded to hit him in the back, arms and face.

The assailants ? four women and 11 men - assaulted him in retaliation for his having read some regional press stories that linked a man called "Petróleo" with a Colombian guerrilla group. As they struck him, they told him that neither they nor "Petróleo" were members of any guerrilla group.

The journalist told IPYS that he recognized some of his assailants as residents of the municipality of Lara, in Zulia state, although he does not know them by name. He chose not to file a complaint with authorities for fear of possible reprisal.

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