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Peru's Supreme Court must act to solve murder of journalist from 2004

On the 10th anniversary of the murder of Alberto Rivera Fernández the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) asked Peru's Supreme Court to have the crime fully solved so that it does not continue to go unpunished.

Rivera Fernández was killed on April 21, 2004. He was hosting the program “Transparencia” (Transparency) on Frecuencia Oriental radio in Pucallpa when two hitmen fatally shot him in the chest. The day before, he had revealed in a television program the names of local officials who were said to be involved in unlawful activities. He was also president of the Uyacali province Journalists Federation.

On April 25 in the Supreme Court's Criminal Tribunal a ruling is due on whether or not to overturn the acquittal of Luis Valdés Villacorta, former provincial mayor of Coronel Portillo in Ucayali, one of the accused of having masterminded the journalist's murder. If this latest ruling is in turn overruled there would be a fourth hearing in the case.

The people who carried out the murder were convicted. In May 2012 Valdés Villacorta and Solio Ramírez Garay, former Coronel Portillo city manager, were acquitted after being charged as the masterminds of the murder. The two had been mentioned in news reports by Rivera Fernández as having allegedly been involved in corruption.

Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Busqueda, declared that “without any desire to interfere in the court rulings” he wanted to express what was stated in a resolution adopted at the IAPA's recent meeting in Barbados which called upon the Supreme Court's Criminal Tribunal to act urgently “within the framework of the law to promptly resolve the overturning of the acquittal … so that this crime does not remain unpunished.”

The IAPA and the Peruvian Press Council have been continuously following this case, which is regarded as emblematic by the Peruvian press. The two organizations have been actively sending missions to the site of the events, visiting members of Congress and other authorities, and organizing public campaigns on press freedom and impunity and violence against journalists.

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