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Paraguay14 October 2005

Local mayor beats up community radio manager, puts gun to his head

Reporters Without Borders voiced shock today at the beating which Nicolás Sotelo, the manager of community radio FM San Juan in the southern town of San Juan del Paraná, received from local mayor Aldo Lepretti on 10 October.

“The plight of Paraguay’s small community radio stations is alarming,” the press freedom organisation said. “Many of them are critical of local governments and are often the target of violence. We hope that an investigation will be carried out promptly into this attack.”

Mayor Lepretti burst into the radio station after a programme that was very critical of the municipal government. He threw Sotelo to the ground, hit him repeatedly in the face and all over his body, put a revolver to his head and said: “I have already let you get away with too much.” Sotelo was left with a broken nose, while broadcasting equipment and computers were damaged.

Sotelo filed a complaint against the mayor accusing him of attempted homicide, assault and destruction of material.

Lepretti has denied the charges and has responded with his own accusations against Sotelo. He claims that Sotelo’s wife is affiliated to a rival tendency within his party and that the allegations were fabricated in an attempt to discredit him.

In other cases involving community radio stations, Ñemity FM in the northern town of Capiibary was closed down on 26 August on the grounds that it was broadcasting illegally, while the studios of Quebracho Poty in the northeastern town of Puerto Casada were completely destroyed by a firebomb on 2 August.

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