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Journalist who covers Mapuche conflict arrested

(RSF/IFEX) - 13 September 2010 - On 11 September 2010, "El Ciudadano" online newspaper correspondent and Radio Nuevo Mundo host Marcelo Garay Vergara was arrested in the town of Temuco by the special police investigations unit (BIPE). The journalist was on his way to a demonstration commemorating the victims of the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet (1973-1990). Vergara was accused of failing to respond to a court summons in relation to a year-old report about a land dispute in the indigenous Mapuche territory. The journalist and his lawyers said they never received the summons.

Vergara has previously been threatened and harassed by the Chilean authorities because of his coverage of the Mapuche conflict. He is due to appear at a preliminary hearing on 13 September. The prosecution is seeking a sentence of 200 days in prison and payment of 50 monthly tributary units (approx. 2,700 euros). His lawyer, Rodrigo Román, fears the preventive detention of his client.

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