Romanian journalist beaten after criticising leaders

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The Independent Online

A journalist who had written about the leaders of the local ruling party and their alleged links to illegal business has been beaten unconscious in the west Romanian city of Timisoara.

Ino Ardelean, 36, a reporter for the independent daily Evenimentul Zilei, was hit on the head by unknown assailants as he walked home on Wednesday. Nothing was taken from him. He was undergoing surgery for a broken jaw and other head injuries yesterday.

Radu Ciobotea, who heads the paper's Timisoara newsroom, said: "We believe it was an act of intimidation or revenge against Ardelean. He has been writing about the ruling party and their links to business, and we are approaching the election campaign." Mr Ciobotea said the paper would not cave in to pressure and would continue to publish critical articles.

The Timisoara branch of the ruling Social Democratic Party called for authorities to investigate the case, and said it "regretted the incident".

Mr Ciobotea and other journalists in Timisoara said the Social Democratic Party viewed Mr Ardelean as an unfriendly reporter and refused to answer his questions. His articles were often criticised during party meetings, Mr Ciobotea added.

Mircea Toma, who heads the Agency for Monitoring Press Freedoms, said Mr Ardelean was the 14th journalist to be physically assaulted in Romania this year. "Attacks on journalists have grown. We are now seeing that people are hiring paid aggressors to beat journalists," he said.

Mr Toma also criticised what he said was the inefficiency of the police in investigating attacks on journalists.

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