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Community radio journalist arrested and beaten

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On 9 August 2010, members of the National Guard hit the general coordinator, Alí Verenzuela, of the community-based radio station Alí Primera, and producer Mariana Mendoza. After the attack, Verenzuela was detained, handcuffed and left in solitary confinement for three hours. This took place in front of the administrative headquarters of the National Assembly (the Legislative) in Caracas.

Verenzuela and Mendoza were covering a protest outside the National Assembly (NA) by students of Venezuela's Bolivarian University in the State of Táchira, who were demanding that a detained classmate be released.

According to the journalist's statement to IPYS-Venezuela, members of the National Guard violently suppressed the protest and charged against the detained student's mother following orders from a Lieutenant Colonel. When Verenzuela demanded that the lady should be shown some respect, the guards insulted him, hit him and took him to one of the NA security offices. They also pushed Mendoza to the floor.

Verenzuela remained handcuffed for more than three hours even though he was identified as a radio journalist. He was hit in the stomach, the guards sat on him, stepped on his neck and even broke one of his teeth.

Officials of the National Assembly's Science, Technology and Media Commission intervened to get Verenzuela released.

Radio Alí Primera has already reported the incident to the Republic's Attorney General.

Faced with this emergency, IPYS-Venezuela commits itself to following the investigations into the case and, at the same time, strongly rejects violence against the press aimed at censoring information about what is happening in the country.

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