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Venezuela21 May 2008

Ex-policeman gets 15 years for murdering newspaper photographer in 2006

Reporters Without Borders welcomes the 15-year prison sentence that a Caracas court imposed on former policemen Boris Blanco Arcia on 19 May for the murder of newspaper photographer Jorge Aguirre of the El Mundo daily (part of the Cadena Capriles group), who was shot dead while covering a protest against violent crime on 5 April 2006 (see release of 26 April 2006).

“Aguirre’s murder amid a wave of angry protests against violent crime shocked both the media and the public,” the press freedom organisation said. “Justice has been done, and this verdict has shown yet again that impunity is not inevitable. At the same time, it is flustrating that Blanco was incapable of clearly explaining why he shot Aguirre.”

Blanco’s trial on charges of homicide and illegally posing as a policeman lasted seven months. In the end, he was convicted only on the first charge. He has been held ever since his arrest on 13 April 2006, eight days after the murder.

The protest Aguirre went to cover took place on the Caracas university campus and was prompted by the murder of three teenagers. Blanco, who had been fired from his job as a police officer in October 2005, was at the demonstration posing as a policeman on active duty. He ordered Aguirre to stop and, when Aguirre failed to comply, shot him three times at close range.

As Aguirre fell to the ground, he managed to photograph Blanco in the process of fleeing on a motorcycle (see above). It was this photo that led to Blanco’s identification and arrest.

Aguirre’s daughter, Jorbeth Aguirre, told Reporters Without Borders in an email message she was disappointed by the sentence as the maximum penalty for this kind of murder in Venezuela is 30 years in prison. She said she feared Blanco could be “out after four years.”

Aguirre’s last picture - 29.6 kb
Aguirre’s last picture

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