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Guatemala11 July 2007

A photographer murdered in the capital for unknown reasons

Reporters Without Borders said today it had been shocked to learn of the murder of photographer Jorge Alejandro Castañeda Martínez, who was gunned down in Guatemala City on 5 July.

The 35-year-old had just dropped his sons, aged six and four, off at their school when gunmen opened fire, shooting him a dozen times. He was talking to his wife on his mobile phone when he was killed. Moments before the first shots rang out she heard him shout out, “Why?”

Police at first believed the motive to be vehicle theft but the authorities later said that the type of car the journalist owned and the manner of the killing made it highly unlikely.

The worldwide press freedom organisation said that while the reason for the killing remained unclear, press freedom is extremely fragile in Guatemala, where one journalist was murdered in 2006 and another narrowly escaped being killed in February this year.

“Naturally we are waiting for the outcome of the investigation into this vile murder,” it said. “There is nothing so far to confirm that the killing of Jorge Alejandro Castañeda Martínez was linked to his work. However the flagrant insecurity to which Guatemalan journalists are regularly exposed cannot be denied.”

“Radio journalist Eduardo Maas Bol was killed in Cobán in similar circumstances in 2006 and on 2 February this year, Winder Jordán Madrid, head of a local radio station, narrowly escaped a murder attempt after receiving death threats.”

“We offer our condolences to Castañeda Martínez’s wife and two young boys and hope that the killers will quickly be arrested and sentenced,” the organisation added.

Castañeda Martínez had worked for the national dailies Nuestro Diario and Siglo Veintiuno and was employed by the local council at the time of his murder. The renowned photographer was awarded a national prize in 2005.

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