Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attack on an RBS TV crew covering a demonstration on 15 March in Sarandi, in the north of the far-south state of Rio Grande do Sul, by four hooded men who torched the crew’s vehicle, roughed up the reporter and took their equipment.
"We protest against this violence and vandalism against journalists who were doing their job," the press freedom organization said. "We hope the resources deployed by the Sarandi police and prosecutor’s office will suffice to catch and punish those responsible quickly."
The RBS TV crew was covering a demonstration by the Small Farmers Movement (MPA) when the attack occurred. "Four hooded individuals surrounded the crew’s vehicle and set it alight," reporter Leonel Lacerda told Reporters Without Borders. "Then they grabbed my microphone, tore my shirt and hit me several times." Lacerda was left with several bruises but said "the effects of the attack are above all psychological."
The four assailants then went for cameraman Everton Machado and took his camera before running off. "It all happened very quickly, which makes me think it was premeditated," Machado told Radio Gaúcha (a radio station that is part of the RBS group). "They emerged from the middle of the crowd. They did not threaten us. They went straight for my camera," he added.
RBS reported the attack to the authorities, who assigned an appreciable number of personnel to the investigation. At least 40 police officers carried out a search of the area and two federal agents also visited the scene of the attack.
"I doubt that our assailants belong to the MPA," Lacerda told Reporters Without Borders. "We have always had good relations with this movement."