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Three journalists assaulted while covering different protests; another journalist faces legal action

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 27 January 2010, journalist José Gregorio Adames, president of the National Journalists Association and a reporter for the station Barinas TV, filed a complaint that he and his camera operator, Dixon Coronado, were attacked by unidentified assailants as they were leaving the Los Llanos National Experimental University Ezequiel Zamora (Unellez), in the city of Barinas, State of Barinas, in western Venezuela.

The news team was interviewing a group of students when around 12 unidentified persons attacked the camera operator, pushed him to the floor and stole the camera tape.

Coronado suffered a rib and back injury. A formal complaint was filed with the Department of Civil, Penal, and Criminal Investigations (CICPC), which has already opened an investigation.

On 26 January, Unellez rector Miguel Ángel Henríquez issued a press release in several media outlets, denouncing the actions of individuals interested in creating instability in the university. He appealed for calm.

In a separate incident that took place on 27 January in the state of Aragua, northern Venezuela, Luis Noguera, a reporter for Televisora Regional Venezolana (TRV), was subjected to a precautionary measure by Judge Adriana Villa, of the Legal Circuit's First Tribunal. Noguera is required to present himself to the state tribunal every 30 days and cannot leave the country.

The measure was issued after the journalist was detained by the anti-riot police on 26 January in Aragua and accused of participating in a protest. According to the journalist, the accusation is untrue, as his motive for being in the area was that he was working on an assignment.

Noguera was held overnight at the Aragua Police Central Command and then transferred to the court for his hearing.

He was accused, along with twelve other people, of resisting authority, property damage and disturbing the public order.

The journalist's lawyers announced that they will appeal the judge's decision.

In a third case, which also took place on 27 January, a group of athletes and members of the Autonomous Sports Service of Trujillo (SATRUD) attacked "Diario de los Andes" journalist Jhonathan Raúl Segovia while he was covering a students' demonstration in the city of Valera, in the state of Trujillo, western Venezuela.

The attackers demanded that the journalist delete all images of the protest, where an alleged SATRUD leader is seen firing a gun in the air. When the journalist refused to do so, the attackers pounced on him, hit him and destroyed his camera.

Segovia was able to retrieve the camera's memory card and flee the area. He was followed during several minutes by a hooded individual and an athlete who threw stones and other objects at him. The journalist was able to take shelter. He suffered minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the assailants and the police were caught up in a demonstration and hit with stones and pellets by a group of university students who were protesting against the closing down of RCTV Internacional, the rationing of the city's electricity service and the death of a student in the state of Mérida who had been participating in another protest in support of RCTV Internacional.

Segovia filed a formal complaint with Trujillo's District Attorney's Office, which ordered the CICPC to open an investigation.

IPYS condemns the aggression against Segovia as an attack on press freedom.

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