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Surprising reversal by Supreme Court leaves slain reporter's family seeking justice

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a 30 May 2007 CPJ press release:

A Mayor and Murder

A CPJ Special Report: In Peru, a surprising reversal by the Supreme Court leaves a slain reporter's family seeking justice.

New York, May 30, 2007 - The widow of murdered radio commentator Antonio de la
Torre Echeandía is pursuing a difficult and risky road to justice after the Peruvian Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a local mayor and four others in the 2004 slaying, the Committee to Protect Journalists recounts in a new report, "A Mayor and a Murder." ( )

Dina Ramírez Ramírez's husband died after being stabbed 10 times on a street in Yungay, a small town in the western province of Áncash. After a police investigation and trial that stretched out over two years, a Superior Court panel convicted local Mayor Amaro León León and four others of plotting and carrying out his murder. The judges deemed that the motive - silencing de la Torre, a constant critic of the mayor - was supported by a well-documented history of animosity between the two and a series of previous attacks against the journalist and his family.

But the Supreme Court, Peru's highest judicial body, freed the defendants and overturned the verdict in a controversial 2006 decision. Ramírez told CPJ that she and her family began receiving menacing notes and phone calls shortly after the defendants' release.

Ramírez and the local press freedom group, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS) are now pursuing a complaint with the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, alleging that the Peruvian government violated the rights of de la Torre and his family by allowing threats, harassment, and ultimately murder to go unpunished.

Since 2004, CPJ has documented a rising incidence of threats and attacks against provincial reporters in Peru. "For many Peruvian journalists, then, the outcome of the de la Torre case has great significance," writes the author, María Salazar, CPJ's Americas program researcher.

The report is available online ( ) and will appear in the coming edition of CPJ's magazine Dangerous Assignments.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom around the world.

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