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Former editor of "El Telégrafo" tortured, murdered; robbery ruled out as motive

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF calls on the authorities to shed light on all aspects of the murder of newspaper editor Carlos Navarrete, who was found dead in his home in the southwestern city of Guayaquil on the night of 24 February 2008. The police originally thought robbery was the motive, but they have now ruled that out.

Navarrete had edited the Guayaquil-based free daily "La Calle" since 2007. Before that, he had edited the Quito-based daily "El Telégrafo" since 2000.

"There is still no indication of the motive for this especially gruesome murder and, in particular, no evidence has emerged to suggest that it was linked to Navarrete's activities as a newspaper editor," RSF said. "The Ecuadorean press has lost one of its leading lights and we share in the tributes being paid to him by his colleagues and family. We hope this case will be solved quickly."

Navarrete, 53, was found dead in the bathroom of his Guayaquil home on the night of 24 February by his mother. His hands were tied and he had been stabbed seven times in the neck and thorax. The police said they also found signs of torture on the body.

Blood was discovered inside his car, which was found in another part of the city, and the police suspect he was not killed in his home. The neighbours did not see or hear anything suspicious and nothing appears to have been taken from the home. The police now say they think the murder was an act of revenge.

"El Telégrafo", the newspaper which Navarrete had previously edited, was acquired by the government in 1999 when the business empire of its owner, Fernando Aspiazu, collapsed. Navarrete waged a long battle after that on behalf of the newspaper's private shareholders to regain control (see IFEX alert of 11 June 2007). After a court ruled in favour of the state on 7 June 2007, Navarrete had to leave and went to Guayaquil to run "La Calle".

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