A policeman is pictured listening to a radio in Buenos Aires on December 20, 2013. An Argentinian radio journalist was attacked in his studio on September 16, 2020. (Reuters/Marcos Brindicci)

Argentinian radio journalist Luis Alberto Mancini assaulted after reporting on local corruption

Miami, September 21, 2020 — Argentinian authorities must investigate the assault on journalist Luis Alberto Mancini, find out whether it was related to his journalistic work, and prosecute his assailants, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

On September 16 around 11 a.m., Mancini was violently attacked by two men while hosting his radio program, “Mano a Mano,” at the office of Radio FM Horizonte, the radio station he owns in Villa Río Bermejito in the Chaco province of northeast Argentina, according to press reports. In the days before the attack, Mancini had reported on alleged corruption in the Villa Río Bermejito municipality, the reports said. Mancini is also a local leader of the Justicialist Party, the party of Argentinian President Alberto Fernández, according to press reports.

Erika Alfonso, the Chaco representative of the Argentine press freedom group Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA), posted videos of the attack on Twitter. She told CPJ via phone that they came from the radio station’s security cameras. In the videos, two men are seen exiting a gray car parked at the door of the radio station, entering the studio, and attacking Mancini with their fists and chairs before fleeing in the same car. 

“Argentinian authorities should thoroughly investigate the brutal attack against journalist Luis Alberto Mancini, determine if it was linked to journalism, and see that those responsible face justice,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “The authorities must send a clear message that journalism in Argentina can be exercised without facing violence and retaliation.”

The prosecutor’s office initiated an investigation into the incident and appointed a prosecutor to the case, according to Alfonso. CPJ called the prosecutor’s office for comment, but the call went unanswered.

Later on the day of the attack, two men turned themselves in to the police and confessed to assaulting Mancini, according to a police report on the incident, a copy of which was shared with CPJ by Alfonso. The report does not include the full names of the men but their initials; it indicates that both were detained and appeared before the local prosecutor’s office.

According to press reports, a Villa Río Bermejito official said that one of the alleged assailants is the local secretary of public works, and has already been removed from his post. CPJ called the Villa Rio Bermejito municipality at a phone number posted on its official website, but the line is not working.

After the incident, Mancini was taken to a nearby clinic where he was admitted to the intensive care unit and was diagnosed with internal bruising, damage to the eye, and head trauma, according to Alfonso, who learned of the injuries from a conversation with Mancini’s wife on the day of the attack. CPJ called a phone number for Mancini but nobody picked up.