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Regional government's press team assaulted, arrested

(IPYS/IFEX) - In two separate incidents on 29 July and 30 July 2009, police officers from the Acevedo Municipal Police Force (Poliacevedo) and National Guard personnel assaulted and detained members of the Miranda state government's press team.

Camera operator Leonardo Martínez was arrested on 29 July while he was covering a local protest against the National Guard and the Poliacevedo after they occupied a medical outpatients' centre. When the officers noticed that Martínez was filming the demonstration they began to kick him, then arrested him and seized his camera.

Martinez was accused of instigating criminal activities, disturbing the public order and occupying state-owned property. His family and coworkers did not know his whereabouts until 30 July, when they were informed he was being held at the Acevedo police station. He was later taken to court, where a judge is expected to issue a decision on his case.

Meanwhile, photographer Pablo Villareal and journalist Aira Maya, who also work for the Miranda government's press and communications department, were arrested on 30 July in the city of Caucagua, while they were covering a confrontation between police officers and Acevedo residents who were once again holding a demonstration. Villareal and Maya were accused of disturbing the public order.

A police officer hit Maya in the face. Villareal's camera was taken, but was later returned. The photographer and journalist were released two hours later, after an officer who did not want to identify himself warned them that they would be kept under surveillance.

IPYS condemns these actions against the regional government's press team.

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