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Mexico27 March 2008

Protection urged for Colima state columnist whose home and car were fired on

Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities in the western state of Colima to provide protection, with federal justice ministry support, for Javier Montes Camarena, a columnist for the Diario de Colima regional newspaper, whose car and home in the Colima state capital of Manzanillo were the target of a shooting attack on 21 March.

The National Centre for Social Communication (CENCOS), a local press freedom NGO, quoted Montes as saying he thought the attack was linked to a recent column that was very critical of Colima governor Silverio Cavazos Ceballos.

“Montes pointed out after the shooting that this is not the first time an attempt has been made to intimidate him,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We voice our complete solidarity with him and the rest of the newspaper’s staff and we hope that he will be given protection at once and that the investigation will quickly identify those responsible for the attack.”

The press freedom organisation added: “The fact that the victims says he suspects the state governor and other politicians must not be allowed to obstruct the necessary investigation. The federal justice ministry should, under the circumstances, monitor this case with the utmost care.”

The attack was carried out at 4:45 a.m. by two unidentified individuals who fired seven shots at Montes’ car and residence. He and three members of his family were at home at the time. One of the shots penetrated a bedroom but no one was hurt. Two shots impacted the facade of the house and four shots were fired at the car. The weapon used was a large-calibre, 9 mm Luger pistol.

Montes, who writes a daily column called “Enlace,” reported the shooting to the Manzanillo prosecutor’s office, naming the governor and several other local politicians as possible suspects. In a column headlined “Saints and Sinners” the day before the attack, Montes likened the governor to Judas.

Montes said he was the target of an attack several months ago, when acid was thrown on his car.

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