Journalist who reported on corruption attacked in Peru

New York, June 26, 2012–Peruvian authorities must investigate a violent attack on a local TV journalist and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

Jaime Núñez del Prado, a journalist for Calca TV in the town of Calca in central Cusco province, was hosting his morning television news program, “La Otra Verdad,” on June 17 when three men and a woman broke into the station’s studio, according to news reports. The journalist was airing a report on alleged corruption related to city-owned sand quarries when the attack occurred, he told CPJ. The assailants repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head, causing him to lose consciousness, he said. Núñez, who was hospitalized for five days, said that his nose had been broken, and that he had suffered injuries to his back.

Núñez identified one of his attackers as Jacinto Madera, who supplied sand for city public works projects and was also a close friend of Ciriaco Condori Cruz, the Calca mayor. The journalist told CPJ he believed the attack was in retaliation for his critical reporting on Condori who, according to news reports, faces numerous investigations for abuse of power. The journalist said he had accused the mayor of misusing public funds and other acts of corruption in his programs.

Condori did not respond to calls from CPJ seeking comment, but the mayor told the daily Peru21 that the altercation was the result of a personal dispute between the journalist and Madera. Madera told a local radio station that he had entered the TV station but that the journalist had attacked him and he had reacted in self-defense, Núñez told CPJ.

Núñez told CPJ that Madera and his son were detained by the police on June 17 and charged with breaking and entering and assault, but had been freed while the case was pending.

“The assault against Jaime Núñez del Prado is part of a pattern of attacks against provincial journalists in Peru,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior Americas program coordinator. “Authorities cannot allow a journalist to be attacked in his workplace with impunity.”

Núñez, who filed a complaint at the local office of the Attorney General, said it was the third time that people had tried to attack him for his critical reporting. He told CPJ that on October 4, 2010, he was shot at by gunmen at Calca TV’s sister station, Radio Color.

Provincial journalists have been repeatedly targeted in Peru. In 2011, one journalist was murdered in reprisal for his work, while two others were killed under unclear circumstances.