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Journalist shot dead in Cúcuta not a suicide, concludes autopsy

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is deeply shocked by the fatal shooting of Rafael Bruno, 76, a photographer with the regional daily "La Opinión", on 19 December 2007 in the northeastern city of Cúcuta. The organisation extends its condolences to the victim's colleagues.

"We join 'La Opinión''s staff in mourning Bruno, who had no wife or children," RSF said. "The department of Norte de Santander, where he lived and worked, has many paramilitaries and drug traffickers but the kind of work Bruno did was not likely to have made him a target. We hope the investigation will identify the motive. But first the murderer or murderers must be found."

Bruno's body was found in his Cúcuta home after neighbours called the police. A revolver was found beside the body, suggesting it might have been suicide. But the police also found five spent shells and the 20 December autopsy established from the trajectory of the shot to the head that killed him that it could not have been suicide.

No theories have yet been developed about the motive. His colleagues at "La Opinión" say he had not received any threats. He usually covered stories that were not at all sensitive, such as beauty pageants. The most recent sensitive subject he had covered was the demobilisation of the Catatumbo wing of the paramilitary alliance known as the United Self-Defence Groups of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC), in Tibú at the end of 2004. The newspaper has not received any serious threats in recent months.

Bruno was also the owner of a brickyard and an ice plant. He was a member of both the Cúcuta Association of Journalists and the Colombian Association of Small-Scale Industrialists (Acopi). His only relatives are a sister and a nephew living in Venezuela. His funeral took place on 21 December in Cúcuta.

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