Press photographers Mircea Topoleanu and Brandon Daniel Bazán were finally released yesterday after being held since their arrests while covering major clashes between police and demonstrators in Mexico City during President Enrique Peña Nieto’s swearing-in on 1 December.
They were freed along with 54 of the other 69 people arrested during the inauguration-day clashes. The authorities have dropped the public disorder charges on which they were all being held, which carried a possible sentence of five to 30 years in prison.
“We obviously welcome the decision to abandon proceedings against most of those arrested on 1 December,” Reporters Without Borders said. “But the release of the photographers must not eclipse the fact that the president’s inauguration was marred by the use of heavy-handed police methods to suppress the right to demonstrate and, in some cases, the right to report the news.
“A full investigation must be carried out into these events, in particular, the cases of torture reported by the Federal District Human Right Commission.”
A 32-year-old Romanian citizen employed by the magazine Voices Mexico, Topoleanu was watching the heavy-handed arrest of a young protester when the police suddenly turned on him, hit him, threw him to the ground and took his equipment. He was then taken to police station No. 50, where he was denied any contact with a lawyer or his embassy and was transferred to Reclusorio Norte prison two days later.
Bazán, a 19-year-old photographer with the magazine Café MX, was arrested while taking photos of a group of young people marching peacefully, who were also arrested. Like Topoleanu, he was held in the Reclusorio Norte.