(PERIODISTAS/IFEX) - On 3 October 2002, journalist Catherina Gibilaro, of the daily "Uno", was assaulted by a Mendoza Provincial Police officer, while reporting on events at a sports club in the city of Mendoza. Gibilaro condemned the police officers' superiors for refusing to reveal her attacker's identity.
Gibilaro went to the Andinista Club to report on an attempted robbery by two youths, one of whom was fatally wounded by provincial police officers who were trying to stop the robbers. Upon her arrival, the journalist saw that provincial police officers were trying to get in the way of her colleague, photojournalist AdriÃ¡n Mariotti. When Gibilaro came closer to find out what was going on, she was assaulted by one of the police officers, who refused to identify himself. The journalist then approached Commissioner Mario Campos, provincial security director, and Inspector Commissioner Luis Parigi, but they both ignored her pleas. Meanwhile, the officer who had mistreated her was protected by his colleagues, who hid him in a nearby van.
In a letter to Juan Carlos Jaliff, Mendoza Province interior minister, PERIODISTAS condemned the assault on Gibilaro. The organisation took offence "not only to the attack itself, but also to the perpetrator's refusal to identify himself, and the fact that his superiors supported him in this action. His fellow police officers seem to have been more concerned with protecting their colleague than ensuring the journalist's protection."
The organisation noted that "this attitude [on the part of the police] is not congruent with its obligation, as an official body, to guarantee free access to information that is in the public interest, (â¦). No government can claim to be democratic if it does not protect this right."