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Bolivia24 June 2008

Army lieutenant charged with bombing of TV station in Tarija department

An army lieutenant who was arrested a few minutes after the 21 June bombing of Canal 4-Unitel, a privately-owned TV station in Yacuiba (in the southern department of Tarija), was charged the next day with terrorism, criminal association and “producing and using explosive substances.”

Lt. Georges Peter Nava Zurita was arrested in possession of dynamite and firearms shortly after leaving the scene of the bombing and then running his car off the road. He was also found to be in possession of security accreditation issued by the Palacio Quemada, President Evo Morales’ official residence.

Eleven other people have been arrested in connection with the bombing.

23.06 - Two hurt in bombings against radio in Potosí as TV station targeted in the south

Reporters Without Borders today condemned bomb attacks against the privately-owned TV station, Canal 4-Unitel in Yacuiba, Tarija department, southern Brazil and against Radio Kollasuyo, in Potosí, in the department of the same name in the south-west of the country.

Political and media polarisation that is undermining the country was behind both attacks, which caused severe damage in both cases and left two station staff injured in Potosoi, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. The Tarija blast took place against the background of an autonomy referendum on 22 June.

Two people in a car threw a dynamite charge into the entrance of Canal 4-Unitel in Yacuiba at dawn on 21 June, badly damaging the main door and windows, but causing no injuries.

Judicial authorities blamed elements within army and a group of students at the People’s university of Santa Cruz, supporters of President Evo Morales, who had visited the gas-rich province during the referendum campaign. Around 20 arrests have been made in connection with the attack.

Director of the TV station in Yacuiba, Armando Reyes, voiced his shock and dismay to Reporters Without Borders. “We try to keep a balance in our programmes, to serve the people and those most need it”, he said.

The previous morning an explosion devastated the door and façade of the main studios of Radio Kollasuyo. Its director, Epifanio Moscoso, said two station staff had been injured: Teofila Taquichiri had lost the hearing in one ear and Silvia Gutiérrez had received a stomach injury from flying wood fragments.

The radio had to interrupt programmes later the same day after a fire ravaged tax offices housed in an adjoining building. Both incidents came during a strike by miners in the centre of Potosi, that degenerated into attacks and looting of several public buildings.

Four other journalists were set on by miners. José Luis Velásquez Pareja, of Radio Kollasuyo, Roger Vera, of 18-Católica Televisión, Juan Carlos Paco, press spokesman at the department health service, and Jannet Cortez, of Radio ACLO-Potosí.

“Less serious than in Santa Cruz, on 4 May, and the departments of Beni and Pando, on 1st June, the attacks against the media in the context of the autonomy referendum in Tarija department, hardly give rise to optimism, with another referendum scheduled for the whole country on 10 August,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“As we have urged previously the entire political class must reach an agreement to protect fundamental freedoms, ensure that the radical groups on each side are disowned by the parties and that finally safety guarantees be given to the press for the 10 August referendum”, the organisation added.

In this country
19 January - Bolivia
On eve of constitutional referendum, politicians and media urged to act responsibly
20 November - Bolivia
Pro-government militant under house arrest after new attack on journalists
15 September - Bolivia
Reporters Without Borders urges president and opposition prefects to restore calm after ten days of severe violence
20 August - Bolivia
Call to stop new violence against media in wake of recall vote
11 August - Bolivia
Recall referendum goes off quietly, with only a few isolated attacks on press

in the annual report
Bolivia - Annual Report 2008
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