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Venezuela15 January 2009

Murder attempt against pro-Chávez journalist in Portuguesa state

Reporters Without Borders today condemned a murder attempt against Rafael Finol, political correspondent on the privately-owned daily El Regional in Acarigua, Portuguesa state, central-western Venezuela.

The 62-year-old journalist was leaving his office on the evening of 13 January when two people travelling in a Tucson-type truck opened fire on him and then took flight, witnesses said. A nine-millimetre bullet grazed the journalist’s head, leaving him with only slight injuries.

The motive for the attack is as yet unclear but Finol himself, who quickly recovered after hospital treatment, said he was convinced that it was for political reasons. “I knew this would happen after the recent interview I had with President Chávez”, he said. “It was the work of the extreme-right who want to kill me”, he told colleagues.

Finol, who is an avowed supporter of the President, also said that he had recently been active in the Palestinian cause.

Members of the local press, who spoke to Reporters Without Borders, were unable to confirm whether the journalist or the newspaper had previously had any threats. Rafael Finol and his family are now under protection.

“First of all we are relieved that Rafael Finol has recovered and we hope he can quickly get back to work”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said. “An investigation should now swiftly establish if the attack was linked to his work, since theft can already be ruled out. An attack of this kind should also mean that security should be provided at the offices of El Regional”, it added.



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