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Colombia13 March 2003

Death of Oscar Salazar Jaramillo appears unrelated to work

Details that have emerged about the circumstances of the death of Oscar Salazar Jaramillo, 74, the owner and manager of Radio Sevilla in the southwestern town of Sevilla (Valle del Cauca department), suggest that the motives were personal, or that it was the work of a common criminal. Salazar was found dead on the morning of 10 March in the bedroom of the apartment where he had lived for the past six years, located in the same building as Radio Sevilla.

According to the public prosecutor in charge of the investigation, Salazar was found naked on his bed, surrounded by liquor bottles. He had been stabbed to death with a kitchen knife. There was no sign that his apartment had been broken into, or that anything was stolen. He was found by his cousin Rafael Salazar Vélez, the radio station’s deputy director. According to a station employee, his cousin had been with him in his apartment the previous evening, together with the radio station’s driver, having several drinks. They left the apartment at about 8 p.m.

The investigating judge assigned to the case said the motive for the murder was not clear. He pointed out that the number of murders in Sevilla was growing and that since the beginning of the year there have been a total of 23, although the town has only 65,000 inhabitants. In most of these murders, the perpetrators have not been identified.

A family member described Salazar as a "controversial figure who was very critical of local politicians." In his radio editorial every Saturday, called "Sevilla en 7 dias," he often singled out the mayor, municipal councillors and the departmental government for criticism. On the hand, he never broached the subject of the armed groups present in the surrounding rural areas. He was also a lawyer, working with a law firm in Cali.

03.11.2003 - Murder of journalist and radio station owner

Reporters Without Borders today voiced its deep concern about the murder of radio journalist Oscar Salazar Jaramillo, who was found stabbed to death in his home in Sevilla, in Valle del Cauca department (350 km. southwest of Bogotá), in the early hours of yesterday (10 March).

"We urge you to do everything possible to ensure that the motives for this murder are established and that those responsible are identified and punished," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Ménard said in a letter to state prosecutor Luis Camilo Osorio.

According to data compiled by Reporters Without Borders, five journalists and media assistants were killed in 2002, about 60 were abducted, threatened or physically attacked, more than 20 were forced to flee the country or the region where they lived and worked, and there were eight attacks or attempted attacks with explosives.

The local authorities said Salazar was stabbed to death while resting in his home. They did not say if they were aware of any threats against him. Salazar was the owner and manager of Radio Sevilla, a radio station which he founded in 1954 and which was affiliated to Radio Caracol. He presented a weekly programme of local news, "Sevilla en 7 días," in which he had reported cases of embezzlement within the local municipal government.

He had himself held several posts in the municipal government and chamber of commerce. In the 1970s, he was also a parliamentarian for the Popular National Alliance (ANAPO).

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