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Afghanistan 5 March 2002

Reporters sans frontières is satisfied by progress in the investigation into the murder of four journalists

In a letter sent to the interim government’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders - RSF) expressed its satisfaction concerning the identification of the murderers of Maria Grazia Cutuli, correspondent with the Italian daily Corriere Della Serra, Harry Burton and Azizullah Haidari, respectively cameraman and photographer with the Reuters press agency, and Julio Fuentes, journalist with the Spanish daily El Mundo. "One day after two journalists were attacked in Afghanistan, this progress encourages the authorities to redouble their efforts so these deliberate attacks against journalists are punished," said Robert Ménard, general secretary of RSF. Mr. Ménard also asked the minister to do everything in his power so the murderers are arrested and tried as quickly as possible, and also hopes that an investigation be opened to discover the exact circumstances of the deaths of Johanne Sutton, Pierre Billaud and Volker Handloik, who were killed in an ambush laid by the Taliban on 11 November 2001.

According to information obtained by RSF, Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino discussed a meeting he had with the Afghan Defense Minister, General Mohammad Qasim Fahim, who told him that the identities were known of the murderers of the four journalists killed on 19 November 2001, in an ambush on the road from Kabul to Jalalabad. A suspect is currently questioned by the police.

On 10 February 2002, the Minister of the Interior, Yunus Qanuni, stated that the authorities had evidence on two suspects, one of them who had also been implicated in the quadruple murder. According to one official, this person led the authorities to the scene of the ambush and showed them personal effects belonging to the murdered journalists.

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