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Bolivia28 April 2005

Soldiers stop TV cameraman from filming, hit him in the face

Reporters Without Borders today protested against a physical attack by a military policeman and an officer on TV cameraman José Luis Conde of Bolivisión during a ceremony at the military academy in the capital, La Paz, on 19 April.

"Rights do not end in a military precinct and so we firmly condemn this abuse of authority and act of violence by two soldiers, one of them an officer, against a journalist who was just doing his job," the press freedom organization said.

"We call on the armed forces high command to conduct an investigation and shed full light on this assault, and to take appropriate sanctions against those responsible, as indeed it has already undertaken to do," the organization added.

Conde was filming a ceremony at the military academy, in the south of the capital, when a military policemen suddenly stopped him. "The soldier, named Daniel Castro Revollo, ordered me to stop, claiming it was forbidden to film what I was shooting," Conde told Reporters Without Borders.

"But I was filming the same thing as all the other journalists present, and I replied that I was doing my job," he continued. A lieutenant who witnessed the exchange took the soldier’s side and threatened Conde, he said. "He shouted at me: ’Piece of shit, do you know who we are?’" They led Conde by force to a dormitory. "There, they grabbed my camera from me, pulled out the cassette and broke it. Then the lieutenant struck me four or five times in the face."

Conde said that, although there were no witnesses, "immediately afterwards, my assailants seemed to become concerned and asked me to say nothing." He reported the incident to the armed forces high command yesterday. Commander in chief Luis Aranda Graneros promised sanctions. Journalists’ unions and associations in La Paz have been expressing their support for Conde since 21 April.

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