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Colombia3 December 2002

Journalist shot dead in Huila province

Reporters Without Borders today expressed extreme concern at the murder of radio journalist Gimbler Perdomo Zamora in the town of Gigante, in the southern province of Huila, on 1 December.

"Although we do not know exactly why he was killed, we demand that everything be done to find those responsible for this despicable deed so they can be tried and punished for it," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard in a letter to the country’s prosecutor-general, Luis Camilo Osorio. "Since the beginning of this year, three journalists and two media assistants have been murdered in Colombia while doing their job."

Perdomo Zamora, who owned radio station Panorama FM 89.3 Estereo, was shot dead by two men and a woman as he was leaving a cybercafé in Gigante with his wife.

The journalist presented a morning news programme in which he read the headlines of national and local papers and reported news found on the Internet. He also had a phone-in programme. He set up the station three years ago after nearly 10 years as a member of the town council for the Liberal Party, during which time he took part in the 1999 removal from office of the mayor for embezzlement.

Perdomo Zamora conducted campaigns to help poor people and also exposed the shortcomings of public services in the town. His family and colleagues said he had not been directly threatened.

Friends said he had always been very careful how he dealt with news about the country’s civil war but that anything was possible in the region, where the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) is very active.

FARC has been accused of kidnapping a member of parliament, Orlando Beltrán Cuellar, who owns half the radio station, and of making threats this year that have driven all civil servants out of the town to live in the provincial capital, Neiva.

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