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Journalists decry alleged political persecution by Chavez gov't Caracas, Mar 15 (EFE).- Three Venezuelan journalists prosecuted on varying charges said Wednesday that they had been the victims of political persecution "against freedom of the press" by the government of President Hugo Chavez.
Journalists Ibeyise Pacheco, Napoleon Bravo and Marianella Salazar participated in a so-called "act of solidarity with imprisoned and persecuted journalists" held just prior to Pacheco's appearing in a Caracas court. Pacheco, who since last year has been on parole while completing her 9-month sentence for defamation, was ordered by the judiciary to appear in court so that her status could be reviewed after she was implicated in other similar cases, a circumstance that caused her to lose the privilege of remaining out of jail.
The Chavez government "is cowardly, immoral and fraudulent ...(and) there's nothing it fears more than journalists," said the columnist for Caracas daily El Nacional before entering the courtroom accompanied by a group of her colleagues and opposition leaders.
"The imprisonment of any journalist is (the imprisonment) of the entire public and of the democracy," said Pacheco, who was found guilty of publishing stories on 16 occasions saying that Col. Angel Bellorin had attacked a lieutenant at the capital's main military base.
Pacheco had avoided going to prison on Feb. 10, when the colonel accepted her public apology and "pardoned" other offenses she had allegedly committed in another case. The journalist also had written that Bellorin had altered his university qualifications and military experience to get a promotion, assertions that she later retracted.
Pacheco currently is facing a third trial - now under way - for giving false testimony, specifically for writing that Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel and other government ministers participated in an alleged meeting to plan action against opposition leaders.
Journalists Salazar and Bravo, who were prosecuted for alleged defamation for asserting, respectively, that Rangel charged commissions to firms with government contracts and that the Supreme Court had become a brothel, also said they were victims of political persecution.
Bravo and Salazar said that "the one who deserves to be tried is Vice President Rangel," and Bravo added that "the only (friend that Chavez) still has is ... the president of Cuba, Fidel Castro, because the rest in this country (have left him)."