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IAPA disappointed over decision not to review case of murdered journalist; calls for investigation into attempt to intimidate member of Radio Caracol news team

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, (April 30, 2009) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed disappointment at the Colombian Supreme Court's decision to not accept a request by the country's Attorney General to review the legal proceedings in the murder case of journalist Nelson Carvajal Carvajal.

The free press organization expressed its disappointment at the lack of progress in bringing to justice those guilty of the April 16, 1998 murder in Pitalito, Huila province; the comment was made during the seventh meeting held with representatives of the Colombian federal government from the Attorney General's Office, Foreign Office, Solicitor General's Office and Judiciary Superior Council under recommendation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The request asked of the Supreme Court was for it to review decisions by the Criminal Court of Neiva and Criminal High Court of that judicial district acquitting three defendants accused of the murder.

At the meeting with Colombian officials on Monday this week (April 27), the IAPA said it also lamented the Huila Judiciary Council's decision on December 7, 2007 to impose a statute of limitations on any disciplinary action to be taken for alleged irregularities in the Carvajal murder case proceedings against the Pilato Section 22 public prosecutor and Specialist Criminal Court Judge Luis Ossa Barrios.

The IAPA declared it had not been informed of this decision in time, made while it was awaiting the results of inquiries into the matter, according to a November 19, 2007 statement by the Judiciary Council itself.

Alvarez Gardeazabal case

In another development the IAPA called on Colombia's government and military to clarify and investigate aggressions suffered by Gustavo Alvarez Gardeazabal, a team member of the program "La Luciérnaga" (The Lightning Bug) broadcast by Radio Caracol radio network. The reporter complained that members of the Army were close to his house while six men and a woman broke into it, threatened to kidnap him and carried off three of his computers containing news material.

Alvarez Gardeazabal told the IAPA's Rapid Response Unit that the police told him about the presence of the Army truck, but the military authorities explained that the soldiers were carrying out humanitarian aid by transporting a handicapped person near the journalist's home and that there was no connection with his case. The journalist added that the Army tried to remove the police investigating team.

Updates the Carvajal case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96704

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