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Ecuador17 February 2006

Second journalist murdered in 24 hours in Guayaquil

Reporters Without Borders is shocked by the murder of freelance photographer Raúl Suárez Sandoval, who was shot dead on 14 February 2006 in Durán, near Guayaquil in the southwest, 24 hours after the killing in the same city of José Luis León Desiderio, of Radio Minutera.

“Two murders of journalists in less than 24 hours gives rise to the fear that there is a growing climate of insecurity for the media, even if it is not yet proved that the victims’ journalistic work was the cause of their murders”, the press freedom organisation said.

“The motive of theft appears to be ruled out in both cases so the professional lead should therefore be taken into account. We urge the authorities to do their utmost to see that light is shed on these two murders”, it added.

Sandoval, 43, who contributed to the dailies La Hora Durandeña and La Prensa de Durán, was shot four times after being approached by a car driver just after he mounted his bicycle to return home after making a call from a telephone box.

Witnesses, quoted by several Ecuadorian dailies, saw Suarez Sandoval being approached by a car driver and the two men exchanged a few words. The driver then pulled out a gun and shot four times. The journalist took two bullets in the spine, a third in the right leg and a fourth in the abdomen. He died shortly after arrival at the Luis Vernaza hospital in Guayaquil.

The dead man’s brother, Héctor Suárez, stressed that nothing had been stolen from him and that the murder could be linked to his profession. His brother had apparently told him that he had been followed for several days.

However another version of events has been circulating according to which Suárez Sandoval had failed to honour a debt towards some Colombians.

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