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Journalist's home shot at in Jutiapa in retaliation for his critical sports reporting

(APG/IFEX) - The APG condemns the 22 January 2006 armed attack on the home of journalist Manuel Gilberto García and his family in the city of Jutiapa, an act of intimidation which follows threatening telephone calls he has been receiving since March 2001. Unidentified individuals shot at his home in the "El Condor" neighbourhood in the city of Jutiapa on the night of 22 January. Two bullets penetrated the door of the home, landing inside.

García, director of the television sports programme "Escenario Deportivo", broadcast by Cable de Televisión, and of the programme "Impacto Deportivo", broadcast by the Jutiapa radio station Radio Tamazulapa, was not injured in the attack.

The Association of Jutiapan Journalists (Asociación de Periodistas Jutiapanecos, APJ), of which García is a member, described the attack as "a clear act of intimidation" aimed at "silencing him [García] for his sports journalism" in the two media outlets in the Jutiapa department.

The APG considers the attack on the journalist's home to be not the result of common crime or the unsafe situation in the department, but rather an attack on freedom of thought, similar to such acts committed in the past, when journalists were threatened, kidnapped, persecuted or murdered for exercising their right to inform the public.

APG believes the attack is related to García's praise of members and trainers of a Guatemala City football team, a rival of the local Jutiapa team, during his December 2005 sports reporting, and that the threatening telephone calls that the journalist has been receiving since 2001 are related to his criticism of the Jutiapa team's performance. APG believes that those responsible for the attack and the threats are connected to the local team's managers and to local municipal government figures.

APF condemns these actions. It insists that the police and Prosecutor General's Office authorities investigate and capture both those who directly perpetrated these actions and those who masterminded them. National Civil Police Commissioner for Jutiapa Javier García Arcón, Attorney General's Office prosecutor for Jutiapa Hugo Leonel Marroquín Carrera, and the Human Rights Prosecutor's Office have been informed of who is suspected of being responsible for the crimes, and the latter office has requested protection for the journalist.

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