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Opposition group slams Venezuela for opening probe against newspaper

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • The newspaper printed a front-page photograph of bodies at a morgue
  • Government prosecutors have said they will investigate the paper
  • Violence is emerging as a key issue ahead of September elections

(CNN) -- Members of Venezuela's opposition lashed out Sunday against the government's decision to investigate a newspaper that published an explicit photograph of bodies at a morgue.

The color photograph, which ran on the front page of El Nacional on Friday, showed about a dozen bodies, mostly naked, sprawled on tables at a morgue in Caracas. It ran alongside a story about violence.

Government prosecutors have said they will investigate the newspaper to determine whether it broke any laws by publishing the image. Specifically, they are looking into whether the newspaper violated a law concerning the protection of children.

In a blog post on its website, a coalition of opposition parties said the case against the newspaper is an attack on the press and an example of how the government is unwilling to address its real problems.

"Actions should be taken against the lack of security -- not against the freedom of expression and not against the El Nacional newspaper that just showed the country's reality," said the Table of Democratic Unity, a coalition group.

President Hugo Chavez, who says violent crime in Venezuela is falling, has accused the opposition of trying to exaggerate the issue. Security concerns are of particular interest right now, ahead of parliamentary elections there in September.

His government, which controls several news outlets in Venezuela, has drawn criticism in the past from global press freedom groups and the U.S. government, which have accused Chavez of seeking to limit free speech.