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Uruguay21 October 2005

TV and radio journalist kidnapped, beaten and threatened

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the abduction of radio and TV presenter Marcelo Borrat on 17 October in Montevideo by hooded assailants who threatened and beat him before letting him go.

“This kidnapping is all the more serious as press freedom violations are rare in Uruguay,” the organisation said. “Nonetheless, we are satisfied by the attention the authorities are giving to the case and the protection Borrat is receiving, and we hope the investigation will produce fast results.”

Borrat, who presents the programme “Hippocratic Oath” on both TV Libre and radio AM Libre 1410, was driving home on 17 October when he was intercepted by three men who forced him to get into their car.

He told Reporters Without Borders that two of his abductors wore hoods and gloves while the third hid his face behind a cap. As they drove in the direction of a beach, they beat him and insulted him, and inflicted cuts on his face saying, “As you like to play at journalist, we are going to play.”

They took his papers, mobile phone and watch, and threatened to kill him if did not report the abduction as a case of robbery. They also told him to destroy his “recordings.” When they arrived at the beach, they forced Borrat into the sea and told him not to get out until they had left.

Borrat is currently investigating a number of health issues including fraudulent healers and irregularities in private health insurance companies. He has also been covering other issues such as media censorship and smuggling. He told Reporters Without Borders: “I don’t know who did this. I investigate lots of things. It could have come from anywhere.”

After the kidnapping, Borrat received a visit from interior minister José Díaz, who assigned him bodyguards.

Borrat and another broadcaster, Gustavo Martínez, received death threats on 24 May while they were investigating organised crime involvement in the public health system. An investigation led to the arrest of their assailants.

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