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Journalist detained for three weeks, reportedly beaten and mistreated

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 5 May 2008, Fabián Chacón, legal representative of journalist Leocenis García, stated that his client had been beaten and subjected to electrical shocks by officials of the Carabobo State Police (Policarabobo). García was detained on 3 May after he was accused of damaging some furniture in the reception area of "El Periódico" newspaper and carrying a gun without a permit.

The lawyer said that the journalist had gone to "El Periódico" to collect payment for the advertisement for an airline (linked to one of the paper's shareholders) that had been published in "Sexto Poder" magazine, edited by García. The journalist had also wanted to interview "El Periódico"'s vice-president, Ramón Salazar, about the alleged link of one of the paper's owners to drug trafficking. García was detained, along with his assistant, Yoandry Rojas, and his driver, Luis Tortoza.

The journalist is being held at the Intelligence and Prevention Services Headquarters (Dirección General de los Servicios de Inteligencia y Prevención, DISIP) in the city of Valencia, Carabobo state, where he was transferred following a 5 May judicial order.

In the past year, García had been investigating alleged corruption at the state-owned petroleum company Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA). At the time of his detention, he was looking into some cases of drug trafficking.

IPYS calls on the authorities to investigate the circumstances of García's detention and the alleged mistreatment he suffered, and to ensure that his rights to due process and to defence are respected.

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