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Official strikes journalist, accuses him of instigating violence

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 9 December 2009, Romer Badell, a journalist for "Diario Extra de Monagas" newspaper, was insulted and hit by José Fermin, Public Services Coordinator for the Municipality of Ezequiel Zamora, in the State of Monagas, eastern Venezuela.

Badell was covering the occupation of the mayor's office by workers of the municipality who were protesting because their salaries had not been paid and were preventing the mayor, Ángel Centeno, from entering the premises. Centeno decided to force his way in accompanied by a group of officials, that included Fermín.

Centeno and the demonstrators confronted each other at the door of the mayor's office. Badell was covering the events from above, standing against the banister of the stairs that lead into the premises. Fermín then pulled him by the feet, struck him on the legs and accused journalists of being responsible for the situation.

The National Guard's anti-riot unit used teargas to repel the demonstrators.

On 8 December, in the midst of a similar situation, Fermín declared publicly that journalists are responsible for the violent events in the municipality, because they are against "the revolutionary process".

Badell filed a formal complaint with the Ombudsman, the District Attorney's Office and the Punta de Mata sub-delegation of the Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations Department (CICPC).

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