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IAPA insists justice be upheld in cases of murdered journalists Carlos Guadamuz and María José Bravo

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 6 February 2009 IAPA press release:

IAPA questions Nicaraguan judiciary
Insists justice be upheld in Guadamuz and Bravo murders

Miami (February 6, 2009).- An Inter American Press Association (IAPA) mission to Nicaragua voiced concern at Supreme Court rulings that handed down prison sentences to the murderers of two local journalists with the possibility that both murderers could be freed under special conditions before completing their terms.

The IAPA mission that was in Managua recently pronounced its dismay to Nicaragua's highest tribunal over the decision to place the man found guilty of killing journalist Carlos Guadamuz under house arrest and an order for the release of reporter María José Bravo's murderer.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón, El Tiempo, Colombia, stated, "We are hopeful that the Supreme Court won't allow these cases to go unpunished."

Guadamuz was shot to death on February 10, 2004 as he entered Canal 23 television studios. The man who confessed to firing the two fatal shots, William Hurtado García, was sentenced to 21 years in prison on charges of murder and attempted homicide, but released last February from prison for health reasons and allowed to finish the rest of his sentence at home.

Bravo, correspondent for Managua's newspaper La Prensa in Juigalpa, in the central province of Chontales, was killed on November 9, 2004. A former local mayor, Eugenio Hernández González, who shortly before Bravo's death had harshly rebuked her for an article she wrote, was charged with the murder. A court sentenced Hernández to 25 years in prison but a public debate recently broke out upon disclosure that legal proceedings were underway to reduce the charge to attempted murder, which carries a five-year prison term and would enable Hernández to be released shortly.

During the IAPA visit, Attorney General Julio Centeno confirmed that his office is standing by its charge against Bravo's killer which, he added, is now pending a decision by the Supreme Court.

Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice Rafael Solís, meanwhile, said his court will review the Guadamuz case. He indicated that a precautionary measure had been taken, explaining that "the judge, based on a medical report, considered the convict to be ill and the prison warden, acting under the law, granted house arrest." He added, however, that an appeal had been filed that could result in an amendment of the original court ruling.

Solís told the IAPA that the Bravo case would be reviewed carefully, a promise repeated in a separate interview by Supreme Court Chief Justice Manuel Martínez.

The IAPA mission, which also discussed further issues concerning freedom of the press while in the Central American country, was led by Santos Calderón and included IAPA Vice President Gonzalo Marroquín, Prensa Libre, Guatemala City, Guatemala; Freedom of the Press and Information Committee Chairman Bob Rivard, San Antonio Express-News, San Antonio, Texas; International Affairs Committee Chairman Jorge Canahuati, La Prensa, San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Freedom of the Press and Information Committee Regional Vice Chairman José Roberto Dutriz, La Prensa Gráfica, San Salvador, El Salvador; Ed McCullough, The Associated Press, United States; Liza Gross, The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida; Executive Director Julio E. Muñoz, and Press Freedom Director Ricardo Trotti.

Updates the Guadamuz and Bravo cases: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/91547

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