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Provincial police in Santiago del Estero raided the offices of the newspaper Ultima Hora on Monday and arrested the head of the publication, Juan Pablo Suárez, on charges of sedition against the provincial government. Ultima Hora has published an article condemning this act and stating that the real reason behind the raid and the arrest is to cover up violent police behaviour.
According to the newspaper’s owner, Sandra Wede, policeman Norberto Villagrán was peacefully protesting in the Leopoldo Lugones Square in the provincial capital on Monday 9th December, asking for a salary increase when he was attacked by a group of policemen in front of his wife and children, arrested, and pushed into a police car. Two hours after this incident, which Suárez had filmed, around 40 policemen raided the offices of Ultima Hora. Along with Suárez, the police took two notebooks, a computer, and a camera.
The policemen said that provincial judge Rosa Falco had verbally given them the order to raid the newspaper’s offices. Wede, who is also Suárez’s wife, claimed that she was able to speak to Judge Falco who said to her: “ Give me the video,” and then assured Wede that she had the right to verbally authorise a raid and did not want the video of Villagrán to be used politically.
Both Villagrán, who already spent a week in prison last year for declaring that there were irregularities in police funds, and Suárez, are both currently detained in prison. “My client is currently in prison accused of sedition against the provincial government,” said Víctor Daniel Nazar, Suárez’s lawyer. “It is an extremely grave accusation when all my client did was write a newspaper article” about a brutal police attack on a man who was protesting peacefully.
Police also “’confiscated’ the mobile phones of citizens who filmed the event,” said the lawyer. “We are already looking at all the necessary legal measures to take and at 6pm today Suárez will supposedly be questioned.”
“In all my years in this profession I have never seen such a a serious violation of legal rights,” Nazar concluded.