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CHILEAN JOURNALIST KILLED BY UNIFORMED MEN

A Chilean radio reporter was shot dead in Paraguay last week by two men wearing military uniforms, report the Paraguayan Union of Journalists (Sindicato de Periodistas del Paraguay, SPP), Institute for Press and Society (Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, IPYS), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and international press freedom groups.

Tito Alberto Palma Godoy, a radio journalist, was killed when two armed men opened fire in his home on 22 August in Mayor Otaño, a town in the department of Itapúa, southeastern Paraguay where the borders of Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina meet. His partner, Wilma Martínez, was wounded in the leg.

Palma Godoy, of Chilean nationality, had settled in Paraguay several years before. He regularly reported on the links between organised crime and politicians for a community radio station in Mayor Otaño, and also provided reports for Chaco Boreal radio station in the capital, Asunción.

According to IPYS and SPP, Palma Godoy had often received death threats - which he had reported on air and were known by the authorities. Several years ago, an attempt had been made to expel him from the country, also due to his coverage of the situation in Itapúa.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports that the threats had recently intensified. Within a month of his death he received death threats for his recent reports on drugs and petroleum trafficking in the tri-border area. A week prior to his death, Palma Godoy announced on air that he was returning to Chile with his family.

IAPA, in its recently published book "Map of Risks for Journalists" - part of the organisation's Anti-Impunity Project - identifies the Brazil-Paraguay border as one of the three most dangerous places in the Americas for reporters.

SPP says Itapúa is one of the departments where journalists have most been under attack by criminal groups. In February 2006, gunmen fired at Juan Augusto Roa, a correspondent for "ABC Color" newspaper in Encarnación, Itapúa, after he had reported on marijuana production and trafficking in southern Paraguay. He escaped unharmed.

Earlier this year in May, Oscar Bogado Silva, an "Ultima Hora" newspaper correspondent also based in Encarnación, was the target of a series of threats, including harassing telephone calls, being followed by individuals, and strangers breaking into his home, after reporting on local corruption and drug trafficking.

Visit these links:
- SPP: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/85762/
- IPYS (Spanish): http://tinyurl.com/2nuapk
- IAPA (Spanish): http://tinyurl.com/3an66u
- Latin American Federation of Social Communication Workers (Federación Latinoamericana de Trabajadores de la Comunicación Social, FELATRACS): http://www.felatracs.org
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/3b4ple
- International Federation of Journalists: http://tinyurl.com/2ut3ew
- Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontières): http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=23387
(28 August 2007)

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