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Venezuela22 June 2006

Tovar’s journalistic work ruled out as motive in his murder

Initial enquiries into the death of José Joaquín Tovar, who was shot 11 times on 17 June in Caracas, suggest that his murder was not related to his work as editor of the weekly Ahora. There are indications that Tovar knew his murderer and investigators are working on the theory that the motive was personal revenge.

The daily Tal Cual has reported that Tovar, who also ran a welfare organisation, was the target of several complaints accusing him fraud and embezzlement and that he allegedly extorted 4,000 dollars from people seeking rehousing.

18.06.06 - Weekly editor gunned down in Caracas

Reporters Without Borders voiced deep concern today about the murder of José Joaquín Tovar, the editor of the weekly Ahora, who was shot 11 times yesterday in Caracas.

“The press is paying a heavy price for the generalised climate of violence, with two journalists killed since the start of the year,” the press freedom organisation said. “We call on the authorities to shed light on all aspects of this murder. We do not yet know if it was linked to Tovar’s work, but that possibility should be pursued, given his editorial positions.”

Tovar, 53, was also president of the National Republican University Foundation and member of an organisation that helps communities obtain housing.

A relative said the murder could be linked to his journalism, as he wrote a column for Ahora in which “he criticised both the government and the opposition.”

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