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Suspect arrested in case of journalist Antonio de la Torre's murder

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 21 September 2007 IAPA press release:

IAPA asks Peruvian officials to pursue legal proceedings in Antonio de la Torre murder
Joins Peruvian Press Council's plea that the crime not go unpunished

MIAMI, Florida (September 21, 2007) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today added its voice to a demand by the Peruvian Press Council that the South American country's judiciary and attorney general's office not allow the 2004 murder of journalist Antonio de la Torre to continue to go unpunished following the recent arrest of the alleged culprit.

Moisés Julca Orrillo, accused of being one of those who allegedly carried out the murder, was arrested on September 18 in the city of Chimbote in the Ancash region. The Press Council called on the authorities to pursue inquiries and bring all the suspects to trial.

De la Torre, 43, was stabbed and beaten up by two assailants who waylaid him on February 14, 2004 as he was leaving a social event. He died from his injuries the next day, after identifying one of those who attacked him as the driver of the mayor of Yungay municipality in Ancash, some 220 miles north of the Peruvian capital, Lima.

"We trust that with the arrest of this alleged killer investigators will get to the bottom of the case," said the chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín. "While the person who carried out the crime must be put on trial, it is essential that the Peruvian justice system also arraign those who instigate acts of violence. Only in this way will it be possible to combat impunity in crimes against journalists."

De la Torre hosted the show "El Equipo de las Noticias" (The News Team) broadcast by Radio Orbita radio station, in which he used to expose wrongdoing in the administration of Yungay Mayor Amarao León León, who was later implicated in his murder.

The Ancash Supreme Court on December 14, 2005 sentenced León León to 17 years in prison as the mastermind of the crime. Also convicted and sentenced to the same prison term were Pedro Angeles Figueroa and Antonio Torre, both found to be implicated in the murder. In July 2006, however, at the decision of the Supreme Court criminal division, all three were acquitted and ordered released from prison for lack of evidence.

The De la Torre case was submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights by his widow, Dina Ramírez, and the Press and Society Institute (IPYS), who argued that De la Torre's right to life, freedom of thought and expression, personal safety and humane treatment had been violated ? including his right not to be subjected to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, to guarantees of due process, to the protection of his family, and to legal protection against violations of fundamental rights.

In May this year a joint IAPA and Peruvian Press Council delegation met with members of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government in Peru, asking them to take steps to put an end to impunity and apply greater diligence in seeking to solve crimes committed against journalists, among which the De la Torre, Alberto Rivera Fernández, Miguel Pérez Julca, Todd Smith and Jaime Ayala cases were mentioned.

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