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Northern Irish photojournalist found dead under unknown circumstances

(IPI/IFEX) - The following is an IPI letter to South African President Thabo Mbeki:

IPI Calls for Investigation into Journalist's Death in Zimbabwe

H.E. Thabo Mbeki
President of South Africa
Ambassador L.M. Gumbi
South African Embassy to Austria
Sandgasse 33
A-1190 Vienna, Austria

Via Fax: 01 320 6493 51

Vienna, 29 July 2008

Your Excellency,

The International Press Institute (IPI), the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists in over 120 countries, urges you to do everything in your power to ensure that Zimbabwean authorities clarify fully the circumstances of the death of photojournalist Richard Mills of Northern Ireland.

According to information before IPI, Richard Mills died under unknown circumstances on 14 July in Zimbabwe. Mills, who was 41 years old, was in Zimbabwe on an undercover assignment that included interviewing, on the day of his death, a white farmer who was attacked after speaking out against Robert Mugabe. The photojournalist had planned to leave Zimbabwe on 15 July. Instead, his family was informed that he had died and that the cause of his death was asphyxiation by hanging.

Mugabe's regime has a notorious press freedom record, with local and foreign journalists having suffered countless attacks both physical and judicial. Such a record triggers profound doubt about the Zimbabwean authorities' claims as to the cause of Richard Mills' death. We therefore call on you to raise this incident in future discussions with Zimbabwean authorities, and to ensure that it is investigated both thoroughly and openly.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,

David Dadge

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