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Dominican Republic4 May 2007

Gang member gets 30 years for murder of journalist in 2004

Edri Vladimir “Vla” Pujols, a member of a gang known as Los Zayayines, was sentenced on 2 May 2007 to 30 years in prison for the 2004 murder of Juan Andújar, a correspondent of the daily Listín Diario. He was also ordered to pay the equivalent of 30,000 euros in compensation to another journalist, Jorge Luis Senció, who had to have an arm amputated after being attacked by Pujols because he witnessed the murder.

Fellow gang-member Juan Ricardo Muńos Herrera was sentenced to five years in prison and a fine of 7,000 euros for conspiracy. The court said it could not try a third member of the gang, Maikel Bienvenido Agramonte, because he was a minor at the time. His case will be transferred to a court for minors.

Pujols and other members Los Zayayines were previously arrested several times in 2001 and 2002 in connection with other crimes but until now they had always been released by the courts.

31.03.06 - Arrest of suspected killers of Juan Andújar

Reporters Without Borders notes the arrest of one of the suspects in the 14 September 2004 murder of Juan Andújar, correspondent for the daily Listín Diario, in Azua, 120 kilometres east of Santo Domingo. Vladimir Pujols, known as “Vla” was picked up overnight on 29-30 March in San José de Ocoa province in the east of the country. His alleged accomplice, Tejada Filpo, died in an exchange of fire with police shortly after the murder. Vladimir Pujols is the leader of “Los Zayayines”, a criminal gang which has carried out a number of attacks on journalists, who, like Juan Andújar, investigated their illegal activities in the region. Police chief, Bernardo Santana Paez, said there have been many previous unsuccessful operations against Pujols, who now faces up to 30 years in prison.

16.03.04 - Gang guns down newspaper correspondent

Reporters Without Borders today said it was horrified by the fatal shooting of Listín Diario correspondent Juan Andújar by a criminal gang on 14 September in Azua, a town 120 km east of the capital, and called on the authorities to move quickly to bring those responsible to justice.

"We are very worried by the increase in violence in the area and its effect on press freedom, and we urge you to do everything possible ensure that the killers are arrested and brought to trial," the organisation said in a letter to interior minister Franklin Almeyda Rancier.

"As all of the press in this area seems to be threatened by these gunmen, we also call on you to provide protection to all journalists who request it," the letter added.

Andújar was shot in the head as he left Radio Azua, where he had just presented his regular news programme. The station said the gunmen knew who they were killing because they called out his name before shooting. A fellow journalist who was with him, (Jorge Luis Sención of Radio Enriquillo, was shot in the left arm, which had to be amputated.

The gang member who fired the shots has been identified as Vladimir Pujols. Four members of his gang had been killed earlier that day in a shootout with the police. The police arrested another member of the gang last night.

Radio Azua said that, shortly before Andújar was gunned down, it received a phone call from the gang warning that all of the town’s journalists were going to be killed. Other news media received similar messages and several journalists had taken refuge in the police station. They included the correspondent of the El Nacional newspaper, Juan Sánchez, who received more threats than anyone else and who has been given police protection.

All of the targeted journalists had criticised the criminal activities of the gangs operating in the area. "You cannot live here any more," one Radio Azua journalist told Reporters Without Borders by telephone.

Aged 49, Andújar had been a journalist for more than 20 years. He was also active in local peace and environmental groups.

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in the annual report
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