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Ten years on, IAPA asks authorities for justice in Garzón murder

Ten years since the murder of popular Colombian journalist Jaime Garzón, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is calling on the authorities to put "greater effort" into solving the case.

The famous satirist and journalist was shot by paramilitary forces on 13 August 1999, but the perpetrators remain unpunished.

For instance, those who were initially charged as the material and intellectual authors of the killing have since been released. Paramilitary leader Carlos Castaño was convicted in absentia for the murder, but died in 2004. And questions are still being asked about who ordered Castaño to commit the murder.

Worse, says IAPA, inconsistencies in the homicide investigation may leave the crime permanently unsolved, even though the case was reopened five years ago.

IAPA president Enrique Santos Calderón, editor of the Colombia newspaper "El Tiempo", regretted the lack of action by the government and called on the officials concerned to redouble efforts aimed at locating and punishing the guilty.

Garzón was known for his irreverent style of writing that often criticised the government. "The whole country remembers, on the 10th anniversary of his death, his legacy of irreverence against the power and the political class," said the Colombian daily "El Espectador".

Though the case has been "going around in circles" from the start, and critics have long claimed that the investigation was being purposely diverted, the Attorney General's office says there is new evidence to support the case, "El Espectador" adds.

Marking the anniversary of Garzón's murder, the Foundation for Press Freedom (FLIP) released its biannual report, which shows a slight increase in violations in the first half of the year as compared to January to June 2008. Attacks, specifically those by public officials, top the list of 90 violations.

FLIP says the discovery of illegal spying and harassment against journalists, judges and political opponents of the government for years by the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), a body attached to the President, accounts for the increase.

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