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Journalist murdered following threats, government harassment of critical radio station

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF feels revulsion at the murder of Carlos Salgado, a satirical journalist on Radio Cadena Voces (RCV), who was shot dead 18 October 2007 in Tegucigalpa.

Several staff members at the station, which is highly critical of the government, had recently been threatened.

"The murder of Carlos Salgado confirms the deterioration in press freedom in Honduras (87th in RSF world press freedom rankings). The worsening and terrible climate between the government of Manuel Zelaya and the media unfortunately contributes to this situation," the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

"We expect the authorities, whom we can't hold directly responsible for the journalist's death, to carry out a prompt investigation into the facts. We also call on them to show greater tolerance of media criticism," the organisation added

Salgado, nicknamed "Frijol el terrible"("black bean the terrible"), also the name of his comedy and news programme, was ambushed by two gunmen in a truck who fired seven shots at him as he left the studios of RCV and was about to cross the road. He was killed instantly.

The director of RCV, Dagoberto Rodríguez, said the highly popular presenter apparently had not received any death threats. "We cannot point to who was responsible, but it should not be forgotten that there is a conflictive relationship between Radio Cadena Voces and the government," he said. He told RSF that the attack was clearly aimed at the station.

Some of the station's journalists told the organisation that they had been intimidated and received death threats. Journalist Edgardo Escoto received a threatening call on his mobile phone in September while covering a funeral. "If you carry on pissing us off we will bury you like this," an unknown voice told him.

The president told the radio's correspondent at the presidency, Carolina Torres, in September that he would no longer give her interviews. "You spend your time criticising me," he said. "If I was Hugo Chávez, I would have had this radio station shut down a long time ago."

The government recently accused media owners of using blackmail to obtain public favours, but without giving any details about the nature of the "blackmail". The media has criticised Zelaya's frequent trips and his attempts to control the press. The press has also exposed a number of cases of corruption, which led to a murder attempt on 7 September against Geovanny García, journalist on Canal 13 television, and the suspension of his programme.

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