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Journalist Horacio Contreras receives death threats after criticising mayor's administration

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 21 January 2009, journalist Horacio Contreras, the manager of Studio 102.7 FM radio station, reported that he has been receiving death threats on his telephone. The incidents took place in the state of Mérida, western Venezuela.

The journalist said he has been receiving anonymous threatening voice messages on his mobile phone for a month. He said he did not take the messages seriously until he received two text messages on 14 and 18 January in which his complete name appeared and which said, among a number of insults, that the sender of the message knows where he lives, where his family is and that he will be murdered when he least expects it.

Contreras investigated the origin of the messages and discovered that they came from the telephone number of the bodyguard and personal assistant for Mayor Pedro Álvarez, of the municipality of Campo Elias.

The mayor's bodyguard, whose name the journalist did not want to reveal in order to protect his own safety, is a former convict and is currently under investigation for robbery.

On 19 January, Contreras asked the Department of Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations (Cuerpo de Investigaciones Científicas, Penales y Criminalísticas) to investigate the threats against him.

Contreras, who said he fears for his and his family's lives, believes that the threats are probably linked to accusations broadcast in his programme, "Noticiero 102", relating to the administration of the pro-government Mayor Álvarez.

Contreras said that he will file a complaint with the Superior Prosecutor's Office (Fiscalía Superior), and that he will also request that he be granted protective measures.

IPYS was unable to contact mayor Álvarez.

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