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Peru31 March 2005

Journalist beaten up by 15 policemen, told to shut up

Reporters Without Borders today protested against the beating which journalist Víctor Abel del Castillo Saavedra of TV Sur Canal 9 and several friends received on 26 March in a public square in the southeastern city of Cuzco from 15 policemen after being told to disperse and to stop talking.

"We condemn the violence and cowardliness of this assault by state agents, and the simultaneous harassment of the victim, and we hope the police involvement does not mean it will go unpunished or the case will dropped," the press freedom organization said, calling on the police to take the appropriate disciplinary measures.

Del Castillo was in Nazarenas square in Cuzco conversing with several friends when five policemen told them to disperse. As they were in a public place, they refused to comply. Five minutes later, 10 more policemen arrived and all of the police began to beat Del Castillo and his friends violently in front of everyone in the square. Del Castillo sustained several bruises.

Even if it has not been established that the assault was premeditated or linked to Del Castillo’s work as a journalist, the police threatened him with reprisals if he "continued to talk." The Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), a Peruvian press freedom organization, believes that this threat alluded to his investigation into the alleged payment of bribes to journalists to praise Cuzco mayor Carlos Valencia Miranda.

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