Officials in charge of investigating the 19 March fatal shooting of Juan Carlos Zambrano in the northwestern city of San Salvador de Jujuy are less and less inclined to think his murder was linked to his work as producer and presenter of a weekly news programme on local TV station Canal 7.
It is now being reported that Fernando Chauque, 34, a man arrested immediately after the shooting on suspicion of being one of the two perpetrators, had an affair with Zambrano’s 22-year-old live-in girlfriend, who was with him when he was gunned down outside his home at 2 am.
Investigating judge Juan Carlos Nieves was quoted by the Argentine Journalism Forum (FOPEA), a press freedom organisation, as saying: “There is no evidence that links this murder to Zambrano’s work as a journalist.” Zambrano’s lawyer, Bruno Aguila, now shares this view.
Some of Zambrano’s colleagues, including some of his superiors at Canal 7, still do not completely rule out the possibility of a link between the murder and his work. They point to the threats he recently received and to the fact that on 14 March demonstrators attacked the home of ruling Peronist party senator Guillermo Jenefes, the owner of the Radio Visión Jujuy media group that includes Canal 7.
19.03.08 - Journalist gunned down outside his home in a killing colleagues believe linked to his work
Reporters Without Borders today voiced its revulsion at the murder of Juan Carlos Zambrano presenter of the programme “Con la gente” (With the people) on local Canal 7 television, in front of his home in San Salvador de Jujuy in north-western Argentina.
One of the two suspected killers has been arrested. The journalist’s colleagues immediately said that Zambrano, who received constant threats, must have been killed because of his work.
“We express our deep condolences with the friends and family of Juan Carlos Zambrano and his colleagues on Radio Televisión Jujuy,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
“We urge the authorities in Jujuy province to shed all possible light on this killing, knowing that the victim had enemies within local political circles. Investigators should give full attention to the professional lead.
“Evidence from the domestic partner of the dead man and also from a suspect in the killing, now in custody, should quickly allow this to be corroborated or ruled out”.
Zambrano was returning home at 2am today, when he was ambushed by two men, who shot him twice at point blank range. Nothing was stolen from him. Local officials said that one of his suspected killers had been arrested and the other one was still at large.
The 42-year-old, who had worked since 1992 for Canal 7, part of the Radio Televisión Jujuy group, launched a new weekly news programme at the beginning of March, “Con la gente”, covering local day-to-day problems. He had recently condemned on air a hike in the cost of public transport in Jujuy, which had brought him virulent criticism from several municipal councillors.
One of his colleagues, Sabrina Galván, said he had been under constant threat from Jujuy’s political and trade union figures. The presenter’s lawyer, Bruno Aguilar, told the organisation that Zambrano had received threats after saying he was going to take out a defamation suit against Pablo Lozano, a councillor in the provincial capital, San Salvador de Jujuy, who had strongly criticised him in two articles published in 2007.
Galván had no doubts about the motives for the killing. “This murder is linked to Juan Carlos Zambrano’s journalistic work. It was neither by chance nor for theft,” she told Reporters Without Borders.