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Bolivia26 July 2005

Smugglers beat up TV cameraman in Oruro

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at a physical attack on TV cameraman Freddy Calderón of ATB Canal 9, who was beaten up by a gang of smugglers after filming the contents of one of their trucks that tipped over on a road in the western city of Oruro on 22 July.

"We condemn this use of violence against a journalist who was just doing his job" the press freedom organisation said. "We also deplore the passivity of the police and we hope a thorough investigation will both lead to the arrest of his attackers and shed light on the attitude of the police in this case."

The incident occurred when a truck reportedly loaded with contraband keeled over as it took a roundabout on Oruro’s Dehene Avenue at high speed. Among the many people who witnessed the accident and gathered around was Calderón, who took out his camera and began to film.

The online newspaper La Patria said the smugglers began throwing stones at Calderón when they noticed he was filming. He tried to run, but they caught him, threw him to the ground, grabbed his videocassette and kicked him repeatedly until one of them ordered the others to stop.

La Patria said customs agents arrived at the scene shortly after the accident took place, but the police were very slow in coming, which gave the smugglers time to remove all their contraband goods in taxis and as well as carry out their attack on Calderón without hindrance.

Calderón, who sustained many bruises in the attack, was examined by a forensic doctor and told to take a week off work. That could be extended after X-rays have been examined.

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