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Bolivia25 July 2008

Court orders house arrest for activist who threatened journalists

Pro-government activist Adolfo Cerrudo was placed under house arrest when he finally appeared in court on 23 July on charges of threatening and attacking journalists. He was originally summoned to appear in court on 17 July, but he did not show up and the judicial authorities were initially unable to locate him.

The court told Cerrudo he would henceforth have to appear before Virginia Crespo, the judge in charge of his case, each time a summons is issued.

Cerrudo threatened to rape and kill a La Razón reporter and several of her colleagues during a protest he organised in La Paz on 4 March. Journalists were also threatened and attacked during another of his demonstrations.

25.07.2008- Two people to be tried for recent attacks on news media

Reporters Without Borders is pleased that two people are about to be tried for physical attacks against the privately-owned media. Adolfo Cerrudo is to appear in court tomorrow for threats and attacks on journalists in March and June. The trial of army lieutenant Georges Peter Nava Zurita for the 21 June bombing of Canal 4 television in southern city of Yacuiba is also expected soon, now that the government has given a green light to the military high command.

“We welcome this political will to shed light on press freedom violations, especially those that marked the pro-autonomy referendums in opposition-controlled departments,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The government has demonstrated its determination by making it possible for an army officer to be tried.”

The press freedom organisation added: “We reject any partisan attempts to exploit these cases and we condemn all attacks on the media with the same force, whether they are state or privately-owned, whether pro-government or pro-opposition.”

The head of the Popular Civic Committee, a radical pro-government group, Cerrudo was arrested on 14 July while reportedly trying to steal a flag from a person’s home, but was quickly released because of the minor nature of the offence.

Nonetheless he is to be tried tomorrow in connection with a protest he organised in La Paz on 4 March in response to an opposition demonstration, when he threatened to rape and kill a reporter with the daily La Razón and several of her colleagues. Journalists were also threatened and attacked against during a demonstration he organised in La Paz on 4 June (see 9 June release).

Lt. Nava continues to be the leading suspect in the bombing of Canal 4-Unitel during a pro-autonomy referendum in the southern department of Tarija on 21 June. No one was injured but the explosion caused serious damage (see 23 June release).

Nava 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 accreditation issued by the Palacio Quemada, President Evo Morales’ official residence. Defence minister Walker San Miguel yesterday told the head of the armed forces he could allow Nava to be taken before the prosecutor in charge of the case.

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