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CPJ places journalist on its "missing" list, urges authorities to conduct investigation

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 30 March 2006 CPJ press release:

Paraguayan reporter placed on CPJ missing list

New York, March 30, 2006 - Nearly two months after Paraguayan radio reporter Enrique Galeano vanished, the Committee to Protect Journalists today placed the journalist on its missing list and renewed its call for the authorities to thoroughly investigate the journalist's fate.

Galeano, also known as "El Pirulito," has been missing since February 4, when he disappeared near Yby Yaú, a small town in Concepción, a northern province. Galeano hosts a morning news and music show on Radio Azotey in the city of Horqueta, and he is the editor of the monthly Alo vecino.

Bernardina Quintana, Galeano's wife, reported the case to local police, but she and the Paraguayan Journalist Union (SPP) soon complained about the local prosecutor's inaction. On March 6, the attorney general's office then assigned Yby Yaú prosecutor Camila Rojas and National Police Chief Simón Bogado to lead the investigation.

On March 23, Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos ordered a speedy and thorough inquiry into the case, which has been highly publicized in the local media.

Rojas told CPJ that the investigation is focusing on an interview with Galeano on local station Radio Concepción, aired before he disappeared. In the interview, Galeano talked about having police protection but didn't specify the reason.

Rojas confirmed that Galeano received police protection from four to six days in October 2005, but investigators are still unclear why. Rojas said that local police officers have been summoned for questioning.

In a number of widely circulated press reports, Quintana has accused Congressman Magdaleno Silva from the ruling Colorado party of threatening Galeano in connection with his work.

Silva did not immediately return calls from CPJ seeking comment, but in published reports he has repeatedly denied any involvement in Galeano's disappearance. Silva, who describes himself as a friend of the journalist, has offered a reward of 5,500,000 guaranis (US$900) for any information on the case, the Miami-based daily El Nuevo Herald reported. Rojas said she has called Silva to testify as a witness next week.

Rojas told CPJ she believes there is a possible link between Galeano's disappearance and information he reported on his radio program or in his publication, but the investigation is still in its early stage.

"We are very concerned about our colleague's fate," CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. "We renew our call to Paraguayan authorities to conduct a timely and exhaustive investigation, and to bring Galeano to safety."

To read CPJ's missing list: http://www.cpj.org/Briefings/missing_list.html

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.

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