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RCTV anchor found dead in Caracas

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 16 June 2008 CPJ press release:

VENEZUELA: RCTV anchor found dead in Caracas

New York, June 16, 2008 - Javier García, news anchor for the Caracas-based television station Radio Caracas Television Internacional (RCTV), was found dead in his Caracas apartment on Sunday. The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on local authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into García's death.

García, 37, was last seen by friends and family on Friday night, according to local and international news reports. On Sunday afternoon, García's brother entered the anchor's Caracas apartment and called the local fire department when he found the bedroom door locked, Wilfredo Rojas, commander of the local police, told reporters. García's body was found on the bed with three stab wounds to the torso and two to the right leg, according to press reports and CPJ interviews.

Authorities found three packed bags near the front door, reported the Caracas daily El Universal. The doorman said an unidentified man had left García's apartment on Saturday night carrying a suitcase. When a security guard told the man that he could not take the suitcase with him, he returned it to the apartment and left, said El Universal.

Gladys Zapiain, manager of institutional relations and external communications for RCTV Internacional, told CPJ it was too early to determine if García's death could be linked to his work at the television station. Zapiain said she did not know of any threats against the anchor.

RCTV, the country's oldest private television went off the air in May 2007 after an unprecedented decision by the Venezuelan government not to renew its broadcast concession. RCTV Internacional launched a paid subscription service via cable and satellite on July 16, 2007, which continues to offer critical programming.

"We are saddened by Javier García's death, and offer our deepest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues," said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. "We urge Caracas authorities to conduct a speedy and thorough investigation into his murder."

On June 2, unidentified gunmen killed Pierre Fould Gerges, vice president of the Caracas daily Reporte Diario de la Economía, following dozens of death threats against the paper's senior administrative staff over the last year. Local authorities are investigating his death.

Deadly violence against the press is rare in Venezuela, according to CPJ research. Four journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work since 1992, the most recent in 2006. However, the local press has been subjected to repressive government measures, while reporters and photographers have been attacked during street protests.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org

For further information on the RCTV case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94101

For further information on the Gerges case, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/94444

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