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REGIONS:

RSF reacts to guilty verdict for filmmaker's killers with mixture of relief and frustration

(RSF/IFEX) - 10 March 2011 - Reporters Without Borders has mixed feelings about the guilty verdicts and sentences ranging from four to 30 years in prison that a court in San Salvador passed on 9 March 2011 against 11 of the 31 people, mainly gang members, who were tried for the September 2009 murder of Franco-Spanish documentary filmmaker Christian Poveda.

"The sequence of events and the immediate motive seem clear but was a two-day trial sufficient to establish exactly who did what and to shed light on all the unexplained aspects of this case?" Reporters Without Borders said. "Did it reconstruct the entire story of what happened between Poveda and the young people who appeared in his film? And why was there such a big difference between the sentences requested by the prosecutors and those handed down?"

The press freedom organization added: "We greet this verdict with a mixture of relief and frustration. It marks a victory in the fight against impunity but as an attempt to establish the truth, it may have been too hasty."

As instigators and perpetrators of Poveda's murder, alleged gang leaders Luis Roberto "El Tiger" Vásquez Romero and José Alejandro "El Puma" Melara were each sentenced to 30 years in prison while a female associate, Keiry Geraldina Mallorga Álvarez, was given a 20-year sentence on a charge of complicity.

Seven alleged gang members – Javier Amilcar Fuentes, Daniel Cabrera Flores, Juan Anastacio Jiménez, José Mateo Cruz, Armando Rivera, Carlos Peraza and Salvador Peraza – and a former policeman, Juan Napoleón Espinoza Pérez, were each sentenced to four years in prison on criminal association charges.

The prosecution had requested 50-year jail terms for 30 defendants on charges of aggravated homicide, instigation and conspiracy, and 56 and a half years for Espinoza, the former policeman, on a charge of criminal association. Two other suspects were never found.

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