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Journalist shot in Guatemala City

(CERIGUA/IFEX) - The well-known journalist Felipe Valenzuela, managing director of the radio chain Emisoras Unidas, was shot in the head on 8 April 2010 in what appears to be an attempted car robbery.

The attack took place at 6:00 p.m. in the capital city, two blocks from the church that Valenzuela attends. It seems that Valenzuela agreed to hand his vehicle over to the assailants and then ran away; the assailants then shot him three times. One of the bullets hit the side of his head and exited through his cheekbone.

Valenzuela managed to get to the hospital on his own, where he underwent emergency surgery.

The National Civil Police indicated that the most unusual aspect of the case is that the car was abandoned where Valenzuela left it, with the keys hanging from the door.

Ileana Alamilla, the director of the Centre for Journalism at CERIGUA, stridently condemned the attack and demanded that the authorities, specifically the Interior Ministry, open an investigation so that the crime does not go unpunished like the majority of crimes committed in the country.

Alamilla indicated that the level of violence has surpassed the authorities' capacity to combat it. The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG) has noted that nearly 100 percent of crimes committed remain unsolved, and the crime wave has begun to affect journalists.

Alamilla pointed out that although the attack against Valenzuela appears to be a case of common crime, there are indications that it might also be related to his work as a journalist; the shots that were fired were meant to kill him, and in the end, the car was not stolen.

Carlos Castresana, the head of the CICIG, asked for patience while the authorities investigate the attack. If it was an ordinary crime then it will be easier to solve, but if it was a targeted attack then it will be a more complex case for the country, he said.

Journalists and politicians, including Vice President Rafael Espada, Interior Minister Carlos Menocal, and the Attorney General Amílcar Velásquez visited Valenzuela in the hospital to express their support. Velásquez indicated that an investigation has been opened.

Last March, two reporters from Emisoras Unidas were victims of car theft; one journalist was injured after a scuffle with the thieves.

In 2009, the Centre for Journalism documented the murder of two journalists and one public relations professional. These attacks point to an increase in insecurity in Guatemala and the growing presence of organised crime; the wave of violence has reached levels of 20 murders a day.


RECOMMENDED ACTION:

Demand that Guatemalan authorities conduct a thorough investigation of the attack and guarantee freedom of expression, as set out by national regulations and international treaties to which Guatemala is a signatory.


APPEALS TO:

Ruth del Valle
Comisionada Presidencial de los Derechos Humanos
(Presidential Human Rights Commissioner)
2a Avenida 10-50, zona 9
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2334 0119

Sergio Morales Alvarado
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
(Human Rights Ombudsman)
12 Avenida 12-72, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2424 1717
Correo electrónico: [email protected]

Fiscalía Especial de Delitos contra Periodistas y Sindicalistas
Ministerio Público
(Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Journalists and Labour Union Members)
7a Avenida 11-20 zona 1, segundo nivel
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2220 6873

Oficina del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas Sobre Derechos Humanos para Guatemala
(Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala)
13 calle 3-40 zona 10, Edifico Atlantils, oficina 803
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2382 3410
Correo electrónico: [email protected]

Carlos Menocal
Ministro de Gobernación
(Interior Minister)
6a Avenida 4-64, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2362 0237 / 2339 4474
Correo electrónico: [email protected]

Director de la Policía Nacional Civil
(Director, National Police)
Dirección General de la Policía Nacional Civil
6a Avenida 13-71, zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2238 1474
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