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Chile29 November 2005

TV crew beaten up outside house party for celebrity

Reporters Without Borders today condemned an attack on a Chilevisión TV crew that went to a private house party in Santiago on 26 November in the hope of filming a celebrity participant and was severely beaten by guests outside the house.

“It is very important that those responsible for this gratuitous and violent attack should be punished in order to show that they are not ‘untouchable,’ as they claimed,” the press freedom organisation said.

“In view of the death threats against these journalists and the violence used against them, we call on the authorities to take whatever measures are necessary to protect Chilevisión’s staff,” Reporters Without Borders added.

The three-member crew consisting of reporter Helen Ahumada, cameraman Diego Parraguirre and driver Edmundo Espinoza had gone to a private house where a birthday party was being held for Giovanni Ananías, a former boyfriend of Chilean top model Quenita Larraín, who they were hoping to film.

Parraguirre said a man called ‘Vincent’ came out and asked them to leave. When they refused, he insulted them and threatened them, saying: “If you don’t leave, I will kill you, I will put a bullet in you and nothing will happen to me because I am untouchable, I am more influential than Pinochet and I will vomit on your lousy TV station.”

Two vehicles then blocked the street where the TV crew was located. Two men got out of the vehicles and joined ‘Vincent,’ and then all three of them began to beat up the crew members. The crew finally managed to get into its car and started to drive away. At this point, ‘Vincent’ threw a large stone that smashed the rear window of the crew’s car and hit Parraguirre’s arm.

The beating left Parraguirre with a cut eyebrow that needed three stiches, while Ahumada sustained bruising to a hip and both legs. They have filed a complaint.

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