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Opposition newspaper reporter murdered

(RSF/IFEX) - Mohammed Shu'i Al-Rabu'i, a correspondent for several news media including the opposition newspaper "Al-Qahira", was gunned down on 13 February 2010 in the district of Beni Qais (in the governorate of Hajja), 120 km northwest of Sanaa. Those allegedly responsible have already been arrested.

"We offer this journalist's colleagues and family our heartfelt condolences," Reporters Without Borders said. "His murder is an outrage that could have been avoided if the authorities had not been so negligent. His alleged killers were arrested at the end of last year for physically attacking him but the authorities freed them."

The press freedom organisation added: "This time we call for them to be brought to trial and severely punished. We also urge the authorities to do what is necessary to ensure that this kind of tragedy does not recur by giving journalists adequate protection throughout the country."

Aged 34, Al-Rabu'i was reportedly shot dead at his home by four or five individuals who were arrested after attacking him in late 2009 but were released before charges were brought.

"The murderers have been arrested and will be punished," Beni Qais security chief Abdelrazeq Az-Zareq said, adding that he took "full responsibility" for their release at the end of 2009.

Al-Rabu'i had worked for more than 10 years for "Al-Qahira", published by the Islamic Reform Grouping (Al-Islah), the main opposition party. In the last legislative elections, in 2003, Al-Islah won 22.6 per cent of the vote and 46 of the 301 seats in parliament.

Respect for press freedom worsened last year in Yemen but this is the first time that a journalist has been murdered in violence against independent or opposition news media since North and South Yemen merged in 1990.

Yemen was ranked 167th out of 175 countries in the Reporters Without Borders 2009 press freedom index.
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