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Leading suspect in murder of journalist given 25 years

A former police officer who was the leading suspect in the 2009 murder of Venezuelan journalist Orel Sambrano was sentenced to 25 years in prison last week, report the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF). According to the IFEX members, on 18 May Rafael Segundo Pérez, a former Carabobo police sergeant, was given 25 years on conspiracy charges and is the first person to be convicted for Sambrano's murder.

Venezuelan authorities arrested Pérez in February 2009 in connection with Sambrano's killing. According to CPJ, the court found that Pérez had provided information on Sambrano's daily routine to the actual killers.

Pérez was also convicted of participating in the 2009 killing of a local veterinarian. RSF says the vet was a key witness in a drug trafficking and money-laundering case against the Makleds, an influential family in the region.

"We hail the conviction," said CPJ. "Venezuelan authorities must now ensure that all those responsible for the journalist's murder, including the mastermind, are brought to justice."

Sambrano, who was the editor of the political weekly "ABC", vice-president of the privately-owned Radio América radio station and a columnist for the regional daily "Notitarde", was gunned down in Valencia, Carabobo on 16 January 2009, after covering several drug trafficking cases, including one involving the Makleds.

Authorities allege that local businessman Walid Makled plotted the crime but he remains a fugitive. According to RSF, José Luque Daboín and former police officer David Antonio Yánez are to be tried on 21 June for their role in the killing.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
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  • CPJ hails conviction in journalist's murder

    A court sentenced Rafael Segundo Pérez, a former Carabobo police sergeant, to 25 years in prison on conspiracy charges related to the murder of journalist Orel Sambrano.

  • JOURNALIST MURDERED; ANOTHER SURVIVES SHOOTING

    A journalist who recently covered drug trafficking in Venezuela was assassinated last week, report the Institute for Press and Society (IPYS), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other IFEX members. He was slain just three days after the attempted murder of another journalist in southwestern Venezuela.



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