Monday, September 14, 2009

Mexico: Police Chief Threatens Reporter

CEPET/IFEX) - Artemio Hurtado Ruiz, a "Diario del Istmo" reporter, has reported that he received a death threat on 4 September 2009 from Raúl de Lucio Rincón, the chief of the Intermunicipal Police in Nanchital, in the state of Veracruz, southeastern Mexico.

The journalist said that at 6:00 p.m. (local time) he was outside the local police station when De Lucio Rincón walked past him saying, "Keep your distance, because the next thing that happens is photographs get taken and rubbish/nonsense gets published."

Hurtado Ruiz asked De Lucio Rincón if he had a problem with him, to which the police chief answered that the journalist should ask Rodrigo Pérez (a journalist who was assaulted while he was carrying out his work).

Hurtado Ruiz then asked De Lucio Rincón if he was threatening him. De Lucio Rincón responded by telling the journalist to understand what he had said however he wanted, then made a comment about individuals who appear with their mouths full of ants, a reference to murder victims whose bodies are found covered in ants.

Before leaving, the police chief told Hurtado Ruiz that he had orders - but did not say from whom - to detain him.

Liliana Corona Sayune, who coordinates the "Diario del Istmo" correspondents in Nanchital, explained to CEPET that, on 28 August, the newspaper published an article on various citizen reports that alluded to abuses perpetrated by the Intermunicipal Police (which is responsible for public safety in the municipalities of Coatzacoalcos, Minatitlán, Cosoleacaque and Nanchital).
She also said that in mid-August, the deputy coordinator of the Intermunicipal Police in Nanchital, Fermín Ramírez Bonilla, had contacted her to complain about the publication of a photograph of him in the newspaper.

Corona Sayune said that she considered the threat against Hurtado Ruiz to apply to her and the newspaper as well.

Subsequently, "Diario del Istmo" directors reported that on 9 September at 2:00 p.m., De Lucio Rincón stormed into the newspaper's Nanchital office, accompanied by other armed officers, to complain about an article that mentioned him. The article he was referring to was about the threats the police chief had issued against Hurtado Ruiz on 4 September. According to Corona Sayune, when one of the newspaper's reporters opened the door, the police chief said he wanted to see her and went straight to her office.

"He entered my cubicle and threw a copy of the newspaper on my desk, then asked, "What did he base this information on?' I told him that I had written the piece and that the reporter had nothing to do with it. He said 'Ahh' and then he left," Corona Sayune said.

After this latest incident, the newspaper's directors filed a complaint with the State and National Human Rights Commissions and plan to file another with the Public Prosecutor's Office on 14 September.

"He (De Lucio Rincón) has the right to ask for the opportunity to reply, but arriving armed and in this manner is a form of intimidation," Corona Sayune said.

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