Reporters Without Borders learned with dismay today that two gunmen suspected of fatally shooting journalist Jesús Flores Rojas eight times on 22 August in El Tigre, east of Caracas, were not caught alive.
Lisandro Zapata, the police inspector in charge of the investigation, said the two men, Julio César Torres Pinto, 25, and his brother Luís Alberto, 21, both members of a local gang called Los Sanguinarios (The Vicious Ones), were killed in a shootout with police on the night of 28 August in the El Tigre district of San Antonio.
He said the shootout occurred when the police raided the house they were using as a hideout. The younger brother was killed on the spot while the older one was seriously wounded and managed to escape, but was found dead nearby a few minutes later. A search of their hideout turned up a 3.80 calibre pistol, a 12 calibre rifle, two forged ID cards and other clues that could help the Flores murder investigation.
The police are still looking for a third man who may have participated in the Flores murder, as well as the firearm and the car that were used.
29.08.06 - Provincial daily paper chief murdered
Reporters Without Borders expressed shock today at the murder of a 66-year-old provincial newspaper journalist attacked and shot in the head on his way home with his daughter and called on the authorities to urgently investigate the killing.
The worldwide press freedom organisation noted that the journalist, Jesús Flores Rojas, co-director of the daily paper Región, in the northwestern province of Anzoátegui, was the second to be killed in Venezuela this year and appealed to the authorities “not to let a climate of lawlessness develop towards the media.” It said Flores had made enemies because of editorials he wrote.
Flores was stopped in his car by a gunman in El Tigre on 23 August and was prepared to hand over the car to him, but the gunman refused the offer and shot him in the head eight times before escaping in a waiting vehicle.
The journalist’s daughter, who was not harmed, said her father had often criticised the region’s politicians in print. He had not had any death threats, but since nothing was stolen in the attack, officials speculated it was an act of revenge.
Provincial governor Tarek William Saab paid tribute to Flores, who was widely respected, and ordered an investigation. Nine agents were assigned to the police enquiry.