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Honduras8 January 2008

Murder of local radio boss could be linked to his work

Reporters Without Borders voiced shock and dismay at the murder of José Fernando Gonzáles, 35, owner of Radio Mega in Trinidad, north-western Honduras who was shot dead on New Year’s Day by two men who came to the studios posing as potential advertisers.

The radio, which was launched five years ago, started by broadcasting music only, but in 2007 Fernando Gonzáles introduced news bulletins into the programming which were attracting more listeners.

“Even though the motive for the killing has not yet been established, the organisation is concerned at a possible deterioration in the working conditions of journalists in a region, which is blighted by organised crime and where there are an average of 60 murders a month,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“The news business is fraught with risk in this part of Latin America, which is plagued by drug-trafficking, violence and corruption. José Fernando Gonzáles decided to convert the station to a general media outlet. The motive remains unclear but the professional lead should not be ruled out.”

“Whatever the reasons behind this murder, it fuels a climate which is detrimental to the work of journalists in the country. We send the family and colleagues of José Fernando Gonzáles our deepest condolences. His murder must not go unpunished,” it concluded.

The radio boss died instantly when he was shot three times by two men who came to the studios of Radio Mega saying they wanted to buy advertising. They then fled in a truck in which three accomplices were waiting for them.

The local press reported that according to the police those who instigated the killing had been apparently been identified but their names had not been made public.

It was the second recent murder of a media director in Honduras. Germán Antonio Rivas, owner of Corporación Maya Visión - Canal 7 television, which specialises in investigative journalism, was murdered in 2003.

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