Journalists denounced Saturday intentional attacks by special riot police on more than 20 reporters and photographers covering demonstrations following the defeat in a plebiscite of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.
Among those beaten, punched and kicked by special squads of riot police have been reporters or photogaphers for Newsweek, USA Today, CBS, Village Voice, Newsday and CNN, as well as journalists from Latin America, Europe and those working for Chilean news media."It was pretty scary," said Michael Smith, a part-time reporter for USA Today, who said he was hit several times with a night stick by police. He also said he saw a journalist on the ground being kicked by policemen who had surrounded him.
The attacks Thursday and Friday nights came during demonstrations against Pinochet, the leader of a 1973 coup, who was defeated Wednesday in a plebiscite in which he was the only candidate. The 1973 coup leader had asked Chileans for approval of a new eight-year term as president.
In Milan, Italy, meanwhile, some 10,000 young Italians marched Saturday calling for Pinochet's resignation. Most the marchers were high school seniors.
Pinochet repeatedly has attacked journalists in speeches, accusing them of spreading lies about his government and of being agents of foreign powers, a reference to the Soviet Union.
Foreign journalists have been threatened by Pinochet supporters, who before the plebiscite would chant "Tell the truth" to reporters covering the Pinochet campaign.