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Progress made in investigations into murders of three journalists

(FLIP/IFEX) - The Colombian Attorney General's Office has recently taken a number of decisions regarding the murders of journalists Jaime Rengifo Revero (2003), Jaime Garzón Forero (1999) and Guillermo Cano Isaza (1986).

A judge in the city of Barranquilla has charged two former members of the United Self Defence Group of Colombia (Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia, AUC) with Rengifo's murder. The two men, José Gregorio Álvarez Andrade and Jairo Alonso Samper Cantillo, were members of the counter-insurgency bloc called Wayúu, which was part of the AUC.

Rengifo, 48, was killed on 29 April 2003 in the city of Maicao, Guajira province. He was the owner of El Guajiro publishing house, the director and presenter of the programme "Periodistas en Acción", and the director of the newspaper "Guajiro Quincenario". He had previously been a corresponded for Televisa and the director of the programme "Reporteras Caracol de la Guajira".

Meanwhile, on 30 June 2010, the Colombian Attorney General's Office issued a security measure denying bail to José Miguel Narváez, the former sub-director of the Administrative Department of Security (Departamento Administrativo de Seguridad, DAS). Narváez is suspected of masterminding Garzón's murder and is currently under investigation for another case.

On 13 August 1999, Garzón was killed by two assassins in Bogotá. There are indications that the crime was perpetrated by paramilitaries who were acting with support from the state security apparatus.

In the case of Guillermo Cano Isaza, the Colombian Attorney General's Office ruled on 2 July that Cano's murder was a crime against humanity, in order to comply with the legal limitation that requires criminal investigations be completed within 25 years of the crime. The 25th anniversary of Cano's death will be marked in December 2011. The Attorney General's Office labeled the assassination a crime against humanity in order to find new evidence about those responsible.

Cano was killed on 17 December 1986 in Bogotá by the Medellín cartel, which was lead by Pablo Escobar. Cano was in favour of extradition of Colombian drug traffickers to the United States, which is believed to be the reason why Escobar ordered his death. Following Cano's death, the Medellín cartel launched a series of attacks against the "El Espectador" newspaper; between 1986 and 1991, more than 18 journalists were killed in cities across the country and two bombs were detonated at the newspaper's headquarters in Bogotá.

(Please note this is an abridged translation.)

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