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Chiapas-based journalists assaulted in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Tzimol and Huixtla

(CEPET/IFEX) - On the morning of 1 May 2008, Roberto Domínguez Cortés, a lawyer who writes a column for the newspaper "Cuarto Poder", was beaten with a tree branch by two unidentified individuals, who intercepted him near the Caña Hueca sports park in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in the state of Chiapas, southern Mexico, when he was exercising.

Chiapas Minister of Justice Amador Rodríguez Lozano said: "We will find those who attacked Domínguez Cortés, and apply the full measure of the law to them, not only because he's a journalist, but also because no Chiapas citizen can have their physical safety threatened." The minister indicated that the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público) is already conducting preliminary investigations, and that the public can be confident that those responsible for the assault will be found.

"We've spoken with him directly; he's in good condition. There were two assailants, which he was not able to clearly identify. One was 30 years old, and about 1.65 meters tall."

The minister also indicated that footage from the security cameras in the area was being reviewed, but added that due to the tree branches, the images are not very clear.

"In this case, as in others, we are conducting investigations, and not just because the victim is a journalist; the government has expressed his full and unconditional support for free expression, and has taken a number of measures to strengthen the ability of journalists to do their work."

CEPET is concerned that this assault may be connected to the journalist's work, and asks the authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly.

Sergio Melgar, director of another Chiapas-based newspaper, "Código Sur", commented, "This is not the first assault on colleagues in Chiapas. Scarcely a week ago, reporter Disraelí Angel Cifuentes was dragged and pushed by Tzimol municipal police, on the instructions of the mayor, when he tried to enter a public building, and 12 days ago, the mayor of Huixtla, Porfirio Lugardo, who belongs to the PRI, had Amílcar García, a correspondent for 'Diario del Sur' newspaper, beaten by municipal police, who also tried to arrest him, over an article that made the mayor uncomfortable." (The PRI refers to the Institutional Revolutionary Party - Partido de la Revolución Institucional.)

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