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Áncash superior court acquits another suspect of journalist's murder despite evidence of guilt

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 13 June 2008, the First Criminal Bench of the Superior Court of Justice in Áncash acquitted Moisés Julca Orrillo, accused of murdering journalist Antonio de la Torre Echeandía on 14 February 2004. According to the Bench's ruling, there is evidence of guilt but no conclusive proof against Julca Orrillo, therefore the presumption of his innocence had to prevail. The hearing took place in a prison in Huaraz, the capital of the Áncash region, in northwestern Peru. The Bench is composed of Judges Betty Ticono, César Maya and Edgardo Ames Herrera.

Prosecutor Sadi Anaya, of the first Senior Prosecutor's Office in Áncash, who had requested 20 years' imprisonment for Julca Orrillo, will be appealing the verdict before the Supreme Court of Justice, together with IPYS attorneys Javier Casas and Marco La Rosa.

The appeal will be ruled on by the same Supreme Court that in 2006 acquitted the former mayor of Yungay, Amaro León, who was accused of having ordered the crime.

After the hearing, amid the sadness of the journalist's widow Dina Ramírez and her three young children, the former mayor celebrated the court's verdict on the charges against Julca Orrillo.

IPYS condemns Julca Orrillo's acquittal, which allows the crime to go unpunished, and asks all press organizations to issue statements against the verdict.

On 30 May, during the last audience, IPYS's attorneys reiterated that there was enough evidence to convict Julca Orrillo as the perpetrator of the homicide, which took place in the town of Yungay, Áncash region, northwestern Peru.

The evidence they presented included a video, taped the day of the crime, which revealed that Julca Orrillo had been following De la Torre. As well, the testimony of several witnesses also incriminated Julca Orrillo. Evidence was also presented proving that Julca Orrillo, despite his denials, was indeed a friend of the former mayor, and that he had stayed in the mayor's house more than once. Julca Orrillo's lawyer is the same one who defended León when the former mayor was tried; León and his wife visited Julca Orrillo constantly in jail while he was awaiting the verdict.

In August 2006 the Supreme Court's Transitory Criminal Bench, presided over by Judge Robinson Gonzáles, acquitted León in spite of the fact that in December 2005 the Áncash's Superior Court had sentenced him to 17 years in prison for being the mastermind behind the crime. In September 2006, IPYS and the journalist's widow sued the Peruvian State before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because the Supreme Court's absolution of León created a situation of impunity, in view of the fact that it had ignored the evidence that had let to the guilty verdict issued by the Áncash's Superior Court.

IPYS asks for a fair verdict regarding the killing of De la Torre, who was murdered for having accused the former mayor of corruption.

Updates the De la Torre case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/86732

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