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Dominican Republic22 May 2008

Journalist’s car fired at in post-electoral tension

Reporters Without Borders today expressed concern about the safety of TV presenter Juan Bonilla Martínez, of the privately-owned station Mega Visión 43, whose car was fired on in front of the station in the northern city of Santiago de los Caballeros yesterday, and called on the government to protect journalists better. The attack came five days after President Leonel Fernández was reelected in a tense atmosphere.

“This is not the first time Bonilla Martínez has been targeted,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “The safety of the country’s journalists has sharply deteriorated in the past two years and the authorities have not always taken proper steps to deal with this. The enquiry into this latest attack must show the government is serious at the start of its new mandate.”

Two motorcycle gunmen fired shots at Bonilla Martínez’s car. The journalist, who presents the programme “En Hora y Media,” blamed the attack on tensions in the wake of the elections. “They won’t scare us and we won’t change our editorial policy,” he said. He noted that a few days earlier a window of his car had been smashed by stones. The car of his wife, journalist Nelly Mirabal, was also damaged in March as it was parked outside the office of the ruling Dominical Liberation Party in the city.

Bonilla Martínez is a former editor of the regional daily La Información and was local correspondent for the national dailies Hoy and El Nacional. He was also head of the regional branch of the national journalists’ institute (CDP) and is currently executive director of a journalists think-tank.

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