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Ex-policeman gets 15-year prison sentence for 2006 murder of newspaper photographer Jorge Aguirre

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF welcomes the 15-year prison sentence that a Caracas court imposed on former policemen Boris Blanco Arcia on 19 May 2008, for the murder of newspaper photographer Jorge Aguirre of the "El Mundo" daily (part of the Cadena Capriles group), who was shot dead while covering a protest against violent crime on 5 April 2006.

"Aguirre's murder, amid a wave of angry protests against violent crime, shocked both the media and the public," RSF said. "Justice has been done, and this verdict has shown yet again that impunity is not inevitable. At the same time, it is frustrating that Blanco Arcia was incapable of clearly explaining why he shot Aguirre."

Blanco Arcia's trial on charges of homicide and illegally posing as a policeman lasted seven months. In the end, he was convicted only on the first charge. He has been held ever since his arrest on 13 April 2006, eight days after the murder.

The protest Aguirre went to cover took place on the Caracas university campus and was prompted by the murder of three teenagers. Blanco Arcia, who had been fired from his job as a police officer in October 2005, was at the demonstration posing as a policeman on active duty. He ordered Aguirre to stop and, when Aguirre failed to comply, shot him three times at close range.

As Aguirre fell to the ground, he managed to photograph Blanco Arcia as he fled on a motorcycle. It was this photo that led to Blanco Arcia's identification and arrest.

Aguirre's daughter, Jorbeth Aguirre, told RSF in an email message that she was disappointed by the sentence as the maximum penalty for this kind of murder in Venezuela is 30 years in prison. She said she feared Blanco Arcia could be "out after four years."

Updates the Aguirre case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/73517

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