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Journalist's murder not work-related, say his lawyer and court; FOPEA urges exhaustive investigation

(FOPEA/IFEX) - Journalist Juan Carlos Zambrano, news chief of Canal 7 television station in San Salvador de Jujuy, capital of Jujuy province in northwest Argentina, was shot dead at close range in the wee hours of 19 March 2008. So far, there is no hard evidence indicating the motives for the killing.

Roque Fernando Chauque, 34, is accused of the crime and in custody. The murder took place in the presence of a woman close to Zambrano.

Both the authorities and various private individuals in Jujuy have indicated to FOPEA that they do not believe the crime was work-related, but rather that it was related to Zambrano's personal life. Zambrano's lawyer, Bruno Aguilar, told a television station that the murder was probably not related to Zambrano's work.

San Salvador de Jujuy's Fourth Criminal Investigative Court (juzgado de instrucción penal número 4), over which Judge Juan Carlos Nieve presides, officially announced that "there is no evidence linking the murder to Zambrano's work as a journalist."

Nevertheless, some of the journalist's colleagues have suggested that the possibility that the murder was aimed at "silencing the press" should not be discarded. The national senator of the governing party, Guillermo Jenefes, who is also the owner of Radio Visión Jujuy, the multi-media media outlet where Zambrano worked, insisted "the provincial police and the justice system should clarify the incident."

Jenefes told FOPEA: "We have received a lot of threats, and my house was attacked last Friday," during a demonstration. According to Jenefes, the assailants were "'piqueteros' from various sectors, because we were always critical of violence." The term "piqueteros" refers to various social movements that arose at the end of the 1990s.

However, Jenefes said "of course" he does not discard the possibility that the crime was related to Zambrano's personal life.

The "piqueteros" have not had a history of involvement in either murders or inflicting serious injuries on the people with whom they disagree politically.

FOPEA demands that an exhaustive investigation be conducted to determine the motive for Zambrano's murder.

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