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REPORTER GUNNED DOWN AFTER RECEIVING THREATS

A newspaper correspondent was gunned down in his home in southern Guatemala just weeks after receiving threats, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the Inter American Press Association (IAPA).

Jorge Mérida Pérez, a correspondent for the national daily "Prensa Libre", was shot four times in the head in his home in Coatepeque by at least one unidentified gunman on 10 May, while writing an article on his computer. His 14-year-old son was in the house but was not injured.

National authorities are focusing on Mérida's work as the main motive behind his murder. According to "Prensa Libre", Mérida had recently reported on local drug trafficking and raids and government corruption. Just weeks before his murder, he had told colleagues and family members that he had received multiple threats. CPJ reports that Mérida was threatened after covering a police seizure of 200 kilograms of cocaine.

According to the Centre for Informative Reports on Guatemala (CERIGUA), "poderes paralelos", or "parallel powers" - the groups involved in illicit activities like drug trafficking and organised crime - have penetrated the small country and are the newest threat to free expression. Read about how they've made their mark in Guatemala here: http://www.ifex.org/download/es/CERIGUA_Informe2007.doc

Also visit these links:
- CPJ: http://tinyurl.com/4ap4l8
- IAPA: http://www.sipiapa.com/pressreleases/chronological.cfm
(13 May 2008)

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