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Radio reporter gunned down in Jaén in apparent contract killing over his work

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF expresses its deepest sympathy with the family and colleagues of Miguel Pérez Julca, a radio journalist gunned down on 16 March 2007 in Jaén, in the northwestern province of Cajamarca. Given the stories Pérez Julca was covering and the manner of his death, RSF hopes the police will thoroughly investigate the possibility that it was connected with his work.

"He was looking into local corruption, he said he was being followed just before his death, and his murderers behaved like contract killers," RSF said. "So, for all these reasons the investigators should work on the assumption he was killed because of his reporting, even if that upsets the local government."

RSF added, "Gunned down in front of his family, Pérez Julca was the first journalist to be murdered in Peru since 2004. His murder must not be left unpunished, or else it will encourage others to do the same."

Aged 38, Pérez Julca was returning to his home in the Jaén district of Las Palmeras with his wife and two children on the evening of 16 March when two gunmen on a motorcycle shot him twice in the head and then sped away. He died while being rushed to hospital. His wife, Nelly Guevara Arrascue, was hit in the left knee.

Pérez Julca worked for "El informativo del pueblo," a news programme on local radio station Radio Exitos. He was also a contributor to Radio Oriental and Radio Jaén. He had recently blamed Jaén mayor Jaime Vilchez Oblitas for several cases of mismanagement. He has also covered local corruption and violent crime in Jaén. The day before his murder, he told friends he had seen a white car following him on the street.

The daily "La República" reported that several witnesses had identified the killers as being local criminals but no arrests had been made.

The last two journalists to be killed in Peru were Antonio de la Torre Echeandía of Radio Orbita, who was murdered in Yungay, 400 km north of Lima, on 14 February 2004 (see IFEX alerts of 8 September, 28 and 24 July 2006, 20 December and 9 August 2005, 6 August, 9 April 2004, and others), and Alberto Rivera Fernández of Radio Frecuencia Oriental, who was gunned down in the east-central city of Pucallpa on 21 April 2004 (see alerts of 22 November, 17 August, 12 and 7 April, 13 February 2006, 8 June and 31 May 2004, and others). The local mayors and their close associates were allegedly implicated in both cases but were let off by the courts last year.

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