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Peru19 September 2007

Radio journalist under death threat after revealing municipal "favoritism" case

Reporters Without Borders today expressed alarm at apparent death threats made against Julio César Mendoza Escobar, presenter of the programme "El matador" (the killer”) on Radio Candela in Yurimaguas in the north-east.

Two armed men turned up outside the journalist’s home on 10 September 2007 apparently lying in wait for him, after he exposed fraud implicating municipal officials.

Mendoza Escobar was about to return home when a neighbour tipped him off that the men were outside his door, one with a revolver. Having been attacked a few weeks earlier and fearing for his safety he has left his home and sought protection.

“We do not know if these men wanted to kill Julio César Mendoza Escobar or simply to frighten him, but this case is extremely worrying,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“We urge the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation and that steps are taken to ensure the safety of this journalist, who is clearly being targeted because of his work.”

This came after the journalist spoke about suspected corruption on the part of municipal officials. In particular he accused the mayor of Alto Amazonas, Héctor Hidalgo Rojas, of having shown favouritism to an organization which won the tender to head a social programme "Vaso de Leche" (Glass of Milk) in some local areas.

The journalist told Reporters Without Borders that he had received several threats since July in an attempt to shut him up. Mendoza Escobar said that the organisation systematically obtained contracts thanks to “arrangements” with officials at the councils benefiting from the programme.

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