Reporters Without Borders today firmly condemned a physical attack and threats against Magno Sosa, the editor of the bimonthly Rebelión, on 17 March in the southern Ayacucho area by two women activists he had accused of corruption.
"A dispute with a journalist does not give you the right to use physical reprisals or death threats against him," the press freedom organization said. "Such behaviour is very far from being legitimate criticism of the media and betrays contempt for press freedom. We demand that those responsible be punished."
Sosa was attacked at the railway station of Huamanga (in Ayacucho department) by Gloria Alvarez de la Cruz and Basiliza Dololier Quispe, the joint leaders of a group that defends dismissed public employees (called the Frente de Despedidos). Accusing him of libelling them, they ripped his shirt, scratched his neck and made death threats against him. He finally left the station under police protection.
He filed a complaint and requested bodyguards for himself and his family. He also requested a medical examination.
Rebelión had reported that, during Alberto Fujimori’s presidency, the two women took payments in return for promises to have the names of dismissed employees fraudulently added to a list of persons who had been rehired.
Two days before the assault, Rebelión had revealed that Alvarez de la Cruz had been appointed deputy municipal administrator in Huamanga although she was suspected of embezzlement between 1995 and 1997.
Neither of the two women has so far been arrested for the assault, and both Sosa and Peruvian press freedom organizations have criticised "the passivity of the police."
This is not the first time Sosa has been attacked or threatened. He had problems with the armed forces in the Ayacucho region in 1991 and 1992 after accusing them of abuses in their operations against the Sendero Luminoso guerrillas. The police arrested him in August 1991 and held him for two months on a "terrorism" charge before releasing him for lack of proof. In 2003, he was kicked and received head injuries from coca growers after reporting on their links with drug trafficking.