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France18 August 2003

Guadeloupe police rough up news photographer

Reporters Without Borders has written to Guadeloupe prefect Dominique Vian to complain about police mistreatment of news photographer Sylvère Selbonne of the daily France-Antilles Guadeloupe, who was punched and insulted during a heavy-handed arrest on 15 August.

"This journalist was just doing his job and yet he was treated like the worst of criminals — he was hit, insulted and humiliated," the letter said. "We are not used to this kind of behaviour from the Guadeloupe police," the organisation added, calling for an investigation and measures to ensure that it does not occur again.

Selbonne had gone to a fast-food restaurant in Abymes (Grande-Terre) that had just been held up and was arrested by police while taking pictures of paramedics treating several people injured in the hold-up.

The police told him to leave and when he refused, a policeman roughed him up and then handcuffed his hands behind his back. He was punched several times in the head and kicked in the buttocks, and was called a "shitty journalist."

Selbonne was kept in police custody all night. Feeling unwell as a result of the blows to the head, he was taken to hospital at his request for a medical examination. He has been shaken by the experience and intends to bring a complaint.

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