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Court acquits alleged masterminds of journalist's murder

(IPYS/IFEX) - On 10 May 2012, the Third Criminal Court issued the definitive sentence in the trial of the 2004 murder of journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández, acquitting the former mayor of Coronel Portillo, Luis Valdez Villacorta, and his former municipal administrator, Solio Ramírez Garay, both previously accused of being the masterminds behind the crime. This took place in Lima, capital city of Peru.

The third and highest court resolved that “there is not enough evidence to rule out the presumption of innocence” of Valdez and Ramírez, so they were acquitted of the charges against them.

The prosecutor had requested a 20-year prison sentence for Valdez and Ramírez. The relatives of the journalist had presented evidence that, from their point of view, proved that Valdez had enough motives to order the murder of Rivera Fernández.

The lawyers of the Legal Defense Institute, who represented the journalist's family, confirmed that the motive for the journalist's murder were the accusations he had made against Valdez about more than half a ton of drugs that were found in 2003 hidden among cargo that belonged to one of the former mayor's companies.

According to several investigations, Valdez ordered the journalist's murder and Ramírez contacted the hired killers through his bodyguard Jhony Panduro Ventura.

The legal case for Rivera Fernández's murder had several ups and downs during the eight years it lasted. Valdez was previously acquitted in two instances in trials that were later declared void because of procedural defects and irregularities.

Currently on trial for money laundering, Valdez owns a fortune that probably exceeds US$71 million, according to the anti-drug prosecutor's office.

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