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CPJ investigating whether journalist's murder was related to his journalistic work

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 23 April 2004 CPJ press release:

PERU: Journalist killed by unidentified gunman

New York, April 23, 2004 - An unidentified gunman killed Alberto Rivera Fernández, the host of a radio show and a political activist, in Peru's eastern Ucayali Department, on Wednesday, April 21. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is investigating whether the murder was related to Rivera's journalistic work.

Rivera, 54, hosted the morning show "Transparencia" (Transparency), broadcast daily on Frecuencia Oriental radio station, in the city of Pucallpa. In addition to being a journalist, he served as the president of a local journalists' association and owned a glass store.

According to local press reports, Rivera was murdered at about 1:30 p.m. while he was at his office in the glass store. Two unidentified individuals entered the store and one of them pulled out a gun and shot Rivera twice in the chest and shoulder. There was no sign of robbery, said CPJ sources. Rivera died of his wounds before he could be taken to hospital.

A former parliamentary deputy for the Frente Democrático (Democratic Front), Rivera was an outspoken and controversial radio commentator known for his sharp criticism of local and regional authorities. On January 13, Rivera participated in a demonstration organized by squatters against local authorities in the province of Coronel Portillo. The protesters damaged the local council building and Mayor Luis Valdez Villacorta filed a lawsuit against some of them, including Rivera, for property damages, said CPJ sources. Rivera had accused the mayor of corruption in the sale of land occupied by squatters.

Local authorities have not made any comments on the possible motives of his murder.

"We urge Peruvian authorities to thoroughly investigate the murder of Alberto Rivera Fernández and bring those responsible to justice," said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper.

For more information about press freedom conditions in Peru, visit http://www.cpj.org. CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.

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