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Ecuador16 February 2006

Professional lead the strongest in murder of radio journalist in Guayaquil

Reporters Without Borders expressed its dismay at the murder overnight on 13-14 February 2006, of José Luis León Desiderio, of Radio Minutera, in Guayaquil, in the south-west.

The journalist was found dead with a single gunshot wound to the head close to his home in the Bastión Popular district.

“It has not yet been proved that the death of José Luis León Desiderio is linked to his professional work. Nevertheless, the journalist did not just make friends exposing the scale of criminality in Guayaquil and, according to him, the inactivity of the authorities,” the press freedom organisation said.

“Besides, his family said that his killers had stolen nothing from him. If crime was not the motive for the murder then the investigators must fully explore the professional lead,” it concluded.

José Luis León Desiderio left his home on the evening of 13 February to meet his wife, Jenny Piza, at the bus stop, which was his regular practice because of insecurity in the neighbourhood.

After waiting for him for around 15 minutes, Jenny Piza - who told her story to the daily El Universo - said she became worried that her husband had not met her as usual and returned home. Her daughter, Wendy, surprised to see her returning alone, confirmed that he had indeed left to meet her.

The two women went out again and a passer-by showed them the spot where a gunshot had been heard a little earlier. At dawn they found León Desiderio’s body in a ditch with a bullet wound to the head. None of his personal effects had been stolen.

A journalist with 22 years experience, he first worked for the daily El Telégrafo before working successively for several radio stations, including Radio Minutera where he presented the programme “Opinión”. He was also working as a printer. His friend and colleague, Hugo Asencio, of Radio Z1, also quoted by El Universo, said, “It can only be revenge”, linked to his programmes.

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