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In response to IAPA request, Attorney General reopens investigations into cases of murdered journalists

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, September 15, 2010 - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) praised the decision by the Colombian Attorney General's Directorate of Public Prosecutions to act on its request to identify, review and activate the cases of 27 journalists murdered countrywide.

Early in 2008 - two years and seven months ago - the IAPA asked the Attorney General's Office to take over 27 cases stalled in state attorney's offices throughout Colombia, many of them shelved or suspended. Officials were able to locate the cases, visit the locations and, in June and July this year, hand down major decisions on 14.

IAPA President Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, applauded the action and expressed confidence that "full justice will be done in each of these cases."

Juan Francisco Ealy Ortiz, chairman of the IAPA's Impunity Committee and president of the Mexico City, Mexico, newspaper El Universal, also praised the Attorney General's Office, stating: "This is a good example of how to combat impunity and violence and it should be looked at by Mexican authorities since their country suffers the highest number of these outrages; in other words, they should reopen investigations and not allow crimes against journalists to go unpunished."

On June 29 investigations into the June 11, 2002, murder of Mario Prada Díaz, in Sabana de Torres, Santander province, which had been suspended since December 17, 2004, were reopened. Prada Diaz, editor of the weekly newspaper Horizonte Sabanero, had denounced irregular practices by local politicians and reported on paramilitary activity.

The Attorney General's Office will also look into reopening the cases of Hernando Marné Sánchez, a photographer with the Cali newspaper El País in February 2005; Iván Darío Pelayo, director of Radio Llanorámica in Puerto Rondón, Arauca, in August 1995; Arquímides Arias, director and owner of radio stations Armonía FM Estéreo and Fresno FM Estéreo in Fresno, Tolima, on July 4, 2001, and Gildardo Ariza Olarte, a reporter with Radio Ondas del Carare in Vélez, Santander, on April 19, 1993.

The Attorney General's Office also accelerated ongoing investigations into the February 6, 2000, murder of Fabio Leonardo Restrepo and John Jairo Restrepo Vega, and of Javier Darío Arroyave on September 4, 2007.

Six additional cases were reassigned to public prosecutors who deal with journalists' murders as part of the Human Rights Unit in the Attorney General's Office in Bogotá. Among them are the cases of Zully Ester Codina Pérez, killed on November 11, 2003; Elizabeth Obando Murcia, July 11, 2002; Rafael Enrique Prins, February 19, 2005; Gustavo Rojas Gabalo, February 4, 2006; Milton Fabián Sánchez, August 9, 2006 and Alvaro Alonso Escobar, December 23, 2001.

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