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Public official assaults journalist, uses his influence to have radio programme taken off the air

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 2 March 2010, Edinson Berris, host of the Temblador Stereo 104.7 FM radio station's programme "Sin bozal y sin miedo" (Unmuzzled and without fear), was beaten by Heriberto Urquía, president of the Libertador Municipal Council. Berris' programme was taken off the air after the assault. The incident took place in Temblador, in the state of Monagas, eastern Venezuela.

Berris was leaving the radio station when he was intercepted by Urquía and five of his personal security guards, who surrounded the journalist so that Urquía could hit and kick him.

The journalist said he did know what could have been the motive for the assault, although he pointed out to IPYS that there was a slot in his programme for the public to call in with complaints. He said that on the day of the assault he had received several calls from people who said in a disparaging manner that Urquía was Mayor José Figuera's main admirer.

Berris found out that his programme had been taken off the air when he went to the hospital to receive treatment. This was announced by Urquía himself in another programme broadcast by the Temblador Stereo. The public official said the decision to take Berris's programme off the air was made by the municipal councillors, even though Temblador Stereo is a private commercial radio station.

Berris was informed that radio station personnel would be in contact with him to discuss the situation. Meanwhile, the journalist has been prohibited from entering the radio station's premises.

Berris filed a complaint about the assault with the Institute for Scientific, Penal and Criminal Investigations (CICPC) and the Public Prosecutor's Office. District attorney Ana Conde was assigned to his case.

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