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El Salvador15 May 2008

Three gang members get 35 years for murdering freelance reporter

A San Salvador court imposed 35-year prison sentences on 12 May on three members of a violent youth gang, José Alfredo Hernández, José Luis Mejía Martínez and Héctor Adalberto Ortiz Mejía, for the murder of Salvador Sánchez, a freelance reporter who worked for Maya Visión, Radio Cadena Mi Gente and YSUCA. Sánchez was gunned down on 20 September in Soyapango, near San Salvador.

Prosecutors referred during the trial to a dispute between Sánchez and the gang but failed to clearly establish the motive for the murder. The public prosecutor’s office said after the trial that it considered the case to be closed.

16.10.07 - Police arrest radio journalist’s suspected killer

The police arrested José Alfredo Hernández on 11 October on suspicion of fatally shooting independent radio journalist Salvador Sánchez on 20 September in Soyapango, near San Salvador. Hernández is a member of the “mara salvatrucha,” a very violent youth gang whose activities Sánchez had covered.

Aged 39, Sánchez worked for radios Maya Visión, Radio Cadena Mi Gente and YSUCA. He was ambushed as he left his home. The police are still looking for two accomplices.

24.09.07 - Radio journalist murdered for unknown reasons

Reporters Without Borders expressed its horror today at the murder of freelance radio journalist Salvador Sánchez, who was shot dead in the town of Soyapango, near the capital, San Salvador, by suspected gangsters on 20 September.

“We anxiously await the results of the police investigation, though so far no link has been made between the killing and his journalistic work. Gang lawlessness that targets the population also affects journalists. We present our condolences to his family and colleagues.”

Sánchez, 39, who worked for radio stations Maya Visión, Radio Cadena Mi Gente and YSUCA, was apparently caught in an ambush as he left his home for the offices of Radio Cadena Mi Gente. Police have so far ruled out theft as a motive.

His mother said he recently received threats but had not told her who from. He had informed the authorities but not asked for protection. Two years ago, he was stabbed by gangsters after witnessing one of their crimes.

Radio Cadena Mi Gente director David Rivas said Sánchez was a well-known activist in journalist trade unions and civil society groups.

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