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IFJ AND IPI CALL FOR INQUIRY INTO JOURNALIST'S DEATH

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI) are calling for an inquiry into the death of London "Times" photojournalist Richard Mills of Northern Ireland, found dead in his hotel room in Harare on 14 July and declared by the police to be the victim of asphyxiation by hanging.

Initial reports by IFJ said Mills's family expressed serious reservations that Mills committed suicide. According to "The Times", a post mortem in Harare determined suicide was the cause of death and there was no evidence of foul play.

A statement issued later by the family backed the pathologist's findings. They said, "Having had the chance to examine in detail the circumstances surrounding Richard's death we are now reconciled to the fact that he did indeed take his own life. We acknowledge that the amount of suffering and extreme hardship he witnessed first hand in many harrowing situations throughout the world proved too much for him to bear."

Mills, who had worked in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, was meant to leave Zimbabwe the day after he died. According to IPI, he was in Zimbabwe on an undercover assignment that included interviewing, on the day of his death, a white farmer who was attacked after speaking out against Robert Mugabe.

Mills was buried on 29 July in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He left his wife and five-year-old son.

IFJ said, "The death of this gifted colleague... casts a fresh shadow over the crisis for democracy in Zimbabwe."

IFJ is demanding that the international community, including South Africa, which has played a key role in recent efforts to mediate for a peace deal between the ruling party and the opposition in Harare, to support a full investigation into the photographer's death.

Zimbabwe has become the second most dangerous country for journalists in Africa after Somalia, says IFJ.

Visit these links:
- IFJ: http://tinyurl.com/5qmvgm
- IPI: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95771/
- Times Online: http://tinyurl.com/63bd6j
(30 July 2008)

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