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Argentina18 October 2005

News photographer badly beaten inside police station

(JPEG) Reporters Without Borders today said it was appalled by the severe beating which photographer Leandro López of the local daily El Sol received at the hands of policemen inside the central police station of the city of Concordia in the eastern province of Entre Ríos on 10 October. López sustained facial injuries and his hearing was damaged by blows to the head.

“Violence of this kind is all the more unacceptable when it comes from those in authority,” the press freedom organisation said. “We are astonished that a week after this attack, the police officers involved are still on the job although the provincial government pledged to suspend them. We call for this promise to be carried out at once and we request an investigation.”

As he left his newspaper at around 6 a.m. on 10 October, López noticed that a road accident had just taken place about 100 metres from the main police station. “I had my camera on my neck, as usual, so I went over to take some pictures,” he told Reporters Without Borders. “But after taking one shot, two policemen tried to stop me working by pushing me back and shouting at me.”

When López went to the police station a bit later to seek information about the accident, he was accosted by the same police officers. They shouted at him: “What shit are you getting into, you journalist son of a bitch.” Then they led him into a corridor and in the presence of other policemen, they hit him on the legs, stomach and head.

“They turned one eye to mush and they hit my left ear really hard,” López said. The three policemen who took part in the attack then locked him in a cell. He was left with bruises all over his face and a pierced ear drum, resulting in a 40 per cent lost of hearing.

At around 10 p.m., López was able to get in touch with his lawyer, who finally got him freed at midnight. The police filed a complaint accusing him of “verbal assault” and resisting arrest. They also claimed that he was under the effects of alcohol, although he was not given a test. Provincial governor Jorge Busti took López’s side and requested the suspension of the police officers.

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