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Cameraman shot in Buenaventura, Colombia; another journalist receives death threat in Mexico; IAPA calls for probes into journalists' murders, assaults in Brazil and Venezuela

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 12 July 2005 IAPA press release:

IAPA calls for probes into journalist murders, assaults

MIAMI, Florida (July 12, 2005) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today called on authorities in Brazil and Venezuela to launch immediate investigations into murders of journalists in those countries and expressed outrage at threats and assaults against other newsmen in Colombia, Mexico and Peru.

City councilman and radio reporter José Cándido de Amorim Filho, 45, was murdered on July 1 as he was arriving at the Radio Alternativa FM radio station in Carpina, 40 miles from Recife, Pernambuco state, Brazil. According to eye-witnesses, four men riding on two motorcycles shot at Amorim's car, hitting him 10 times in the chest and head. His son, who was inside the radio station building at the time, rushed his father to the hospital, where he later died.

Amorim was host of the program "Jota Cándido" in which he exposed corruption. He was also a member of the Carpina city council for the Democratic Workers Party (PDT) and had been one of the authors of a local ordinance outlawing nepotism in the local municipal government. He had been the victim of an assault on May 21, but escaped uninjured.

"We condemn attacks on journalists and regret the continuance of acts of violence against them," said Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Guatemala City newspaper Prensa Libre. "We urge that the incident be investigated promptly."

In Venezuela, the IAPA called on local officials "to investigate as soon as possible" the case of news photographer Gustavo Acevedo, of the Caracas newspaper El Globo, who disappeared on June 25 and whose body was identified in a morgue 11 days later.

Acevedo's body, identified by his wife, showed wounds to the head, which according to forensic experts had caused his death. The last time his family had seen him was June 25. They looked for him in local hospitals, jails and even, on two occasions, at the morgue, where they later discovered his body had been taken on June 27.

In Colombia, cameraman Luis Fernando Granados was injured on July 10 while covering a number of murders in the port city of Buenaventura, southwest of the capital, Bogotá, for television. Granados is now recovering in hospital from bullet wounds to the head and stomach as officials investigate the attack on him.

In Peru, on July 8, television reporters Eduardo Liñan Castañeda of Channel 25, Alvardo Briones of Telenorte and cameraman Daniel Urday were verbally and physically assaulted by local townspeople waging a protest against a local mining company. The demonstrators of the community of Combayo, in Cajamarca, more than 500 miles north of Lima, believed the journalists to be slanting their coverage of the dispute in favor of the mining company.

In Mexico, Marroquín urged Tamaulipas state authorities to investigate a threat issued to journalist José Luis Villanueva Berrones, of the newspaper Expreso. Police found a rag doll hanging from a footbridge wearing a t-shirt that bore the words "To all those who don't believe we exist, we leave this doll for Villanueva from EXPRESO. We are going after him. Triangle of death." It is unknown whether Villanueva had received any other threats threat.

"It is imperative that the incident be investigated, given that it occurred in Tamaulipas, which has become one of the biggest hotbeds of violence against journalists in Mexico," Marroquín said. He called on the federal government to initiate the action it had announced in late May - ensure that all cases involving attacks on or threats to journalists are handled exclusively by representatives of the Mexican Attorney General's Office in the various states.

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