News Photographer Says Police Attacked Him

November 26, 2004

NEWS photographer JeffreyArguedas says he is recovering afterallegedly being beaten by police officersearly Saturday morning while attemptingto get photos of the King of Spain andother visiting heads of state reacting tothat day’s 6.2 magnitude earthquake inthe pre-dawn hours.Arguedas, a former Tico Times photographerwho works for the Spanishnews service EFE, said he was on his wayto the Latin American-Iberian Summit ofHeads of State being held at the HotelHerradura, on the highway between SanJosé and the Juan SantamaríaInternational Airport.A traffic accident caused by the earthquakeblocked the highway and preventedArguedas from arriving at the hotel. Thephotographer, who had official accreditationto take photos at the summit, said heasked police officers if he could pass theirblockade to catch a glimpse of some ofthe government officials from 21 countriesparticipating in the summit reactingto the quake.When officers declined his request,and told him to leave, Arguedas called hisEFE editor on his cell phone. After speakingwith his editor for a few minutes, anofficer allegedly approached Arguedasand again told him to leave and started toshove him, the photographer said.The dispute escalated when Arguedasasked the officer not to push or yell athim, said Arguedas, adding that he wastrying to protect his expensive cameraequipment.“I never imagined he would hit me inthe face, but he hit me until I was bleeding,”Arguedas said.Officers threatened to take the photographerto jail, he added, but he ultimatelyspent about an hour in a police car beforehe was released when other reportersarrived.The Public Security Ministry is investigatingthe two officers allegedlyinvolved in the incident, whose lastnames are Vargas and Cascante, accordinga ministry spokesman.The investigation will take “a matterof months,” spokesman Jesús Ureña toldThe Tico Times. If the officers are provedguilty, they face punishment ranging fromone day of suspension to termination, headded.

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