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Venezuela20 February 2009

Former policeman arrested on suspicion of participating in journalist’s murder

Reporters Without Borders hails the progress being made in the investigation into last month’s murder of journalist Orel Zambrano, the editor of the political weekly ABC, in Valencia, in the central state of Carabobo. One of the two suspected killers, former Carabobo state policeman Rafael Segundo Pérez, was arrested on 17 February.

“We hope this arrest will enable the investigators to identify all those involved and the motive for this murder,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Zambrano, who was also vice-president of privately-owned Radio América 890 AM and a columnist for the regional daily Notitarde as well as being a lawyer, was gunned down on 16 January by two men on a motorcycle. He had recently covered several drug trafficking cases including one involving the Makleds, an influential business family in the region.


17.01 - Journalist gunned down by two hit-men, possibly in connection with his coverage of recent drug cases

Reporters Without Borders is dismayed by yesterday’s fatal shooting of Orel Zambrano, the editor of the political weekly ABC, in Valencia, in the north-central state of Carabobo. Zambrano was also vice-president of privately-owned Radio América 890 AM and a columnist for the regional daily Notitarde as well as being a lawyer.

His murder came just three days after the attempted murder of Rafael Finol of the privately-owned daily El Regional, who was grazed by a bullet.

“We offer our condolences to Zambrano’s family and colleagues, and we hope the investigators will quickly identify those responsible for both this murder - the motive of which remains to be established - and the attempted murder of Finol,” Reporters Without Borders said. “These two shooting attacks in the space of three days raise grave concerns about the safety of journalists. Zambrano may have been the victim of a reprisal for his recent coverage of a drug story. This possibility should be investigated.”

Zambrano, 62, was gunned down at around 3 p.m. yesterday. He had just got out of his car and was walking towards a movie rental store when he was intercepted by two men on a motorcycle, one of whom shot him three times at close range. He died on the spot from a gunshot to the head while his assailants fled.

Zambrano had recently covered several drug trafficking cases including one involving the Makled family, an influential business family in the region. Brothers Abdala, Alex and Basel Makled were arrested in possession of around 400 kilos of cocaine during a search of a family property on 14 November and are now the subject of an investigation by the national prosecutor’s office.



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