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Journalist was gunned down to prevent him naming corrupt policemen, colleagues and press reports say

(RSF/IFEX) - Peruvian newspapers and colleagues of Radio Éxitos journalist Miguel Pérez Julca say he was gunned down by two hired killers in Jaén on 17 March 2007 because he had announced during his programme, "El Informativo del Pueblo", the day before that he would reveal the names of Jaén police officers who had links to drug traffickers and who protected criminal gangs.

Pérez did not record his programmes for lack of resources but his sound engineer, Fernando Jiménez, recalled that the journalist announced he would "report on a case involving the regional government." Fellow journalist and friend Pepe Morales said Pérez "had the names of three corrupt police officers under the Interior Ministry's Jaén unit, who had extorted money from drug traffickers and other gang members."

Two people have so far been arrested in connection to the murder: Alí Zamudio, the suspected hit man, and Juan Hurtado Vásquez, suspected of commissioning the kill. According to the daily "El Comercio", however, the investigation is "flawed and inadequate" because witnesses' statements have not been properly recorded and have been taken without a lawyer present.

Authorities have also arrested Elbia Mendoza, the owner of the motorcycle allegedly used in the shooting, and Dílbert Cabada Arteaga, a youth suspected of having followed Pérez prior to his murder and witnessed the handover of about 1,000 euros in payment to one of the alleged contract killers. According to local dailies "El Comercio" and "La República", however, the arrests have only served to deflect attention from those really responsible, namely the police.

Pérez's widow, who was herself wounded in the attack on her husband, has since left Jaén with the help of the Peruvian press freedom organisation Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS).

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