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Peru15 December 2005

Mayor sentenced to 17 years in prison for ordering radio journalist’s murder

The Ancash regional higher court yesterday sentenced Yungay mayor Amaro Léon Léon to 17 years in prison for ordering the killing of Antonio de la Torre Echeandia, the presenter of a news programme on local Radio Orbita, who was stabbed to death on 14 February 2004 in Yungay (400 km north of Lima).

The two people who carried out the murder, Antonio Torre Camones and Pedro Angeles Figueroa, received the same sentence. All three were also ordered to pay 20,000 soles (5,000) euros each in damages. Léon was arrested on 31 March 2004 at the request of the Yungay prosecutor’s office, which said he had De la Torre killed to prevent him broadcasting a report about Léon.

In his programme “Con verdad y justicia” (With Truth and Justice), De la Torre criticised mismanagement by local officials and allowed listeners to make comments on the air. He had often received threats prior to his death and had already been the target of a murder attempt.

Arrest warrants have been issued for two other suspects in the murder, the mayor’s daughter, Enma Léon, and Moisés David Julca, who are both on the run. Lawyers for the three defendants convicted yesterday said they would appeal to the Lima supreme court, which will probably issue its ruling next month.

08.04.2004 - Arrest warrant issued against alleged killer of journalist Antonio de la Torre Echeandía

Police have ordered the arrest of David Moisés Julca Orrillo for the murder of Antonio de la Torre, according to Peruvian press freedom organisation (IPYS). The alleged murderer, aged 28, is from the port of Chimbote and reportedly the boyfriend of Emma Leòn, daughter of the mayor of Yungay, Amaro Leòn Leòn. Police in Huaraz said the mayor apparently paid Orrillo to commit the murder. The suspect was denounced on 25 March by one of his neighbours, following a violent dispute with Leòn and his daughter Emma, during which Orrillo demanded the money promised by the mayor.

31.03.2004 - Mayor arrested in murder of journalist

The mayor of Yungay, Amaro León León, was arrested and jailed on 18 March on suspicion of ordering the 14 February murder of journalist Antonio de la Torre Echeandia to stop him broadcasting criticism of him. León’s daughter and two town officials, a driver and a security guard, were also arrested the same day on suspicion of involvement.

19.02.2004 - Mayor suspected of radio journalist’s murder in Yungay

Reporters Without Borders today vigorously condemned the murder of radio journalist Antonio De la Torre Echeandia on 14 February in Yungay (400 km north of Lima), where the mayor’s driver has been detained as one of the perpetrators and the mayor is widely suspected of being the instigator.

The organisation urged the authorities to pursue all leads in order to establish who was behind the killing.

The presenter of a news programme on a local station, Radio Orbita, De la Torre was fatally stabbed by two individuals as he left a private meeting, but before dying he named one of his assailants to onlookers. He died as he was being rushed to a hospital in an ambulance.

The police have arrested the person named by De la Torre. It was Hipólito Casiano Vega Jara, the driver of Yungay mayor Armando Leon Leon. The driver was at the meeting and, according to witnesses, he had an argument with De la Torre. The mayor himself was reportedly present when the argument took place.

The mayor, who left Yungay after the murder, is viewed by the local population as the instigator. According to local press reports, residents walled up the entrance to the town hall on 17 February to prevent him from returning to his office, and they have called on the local authorities to dismiss him.

Several days prior to his death, De la Torre incorporated a new segment into his programme entitled "Con verdad y justicia" (With Truth and Justice), in which he criticised mismanagement by local officials and allowed listeners to make their - often scathing - comments on the air.

The Press and Society Institute (IPYS), a Lima-based press freedom organisation, said he had been receiving threats for several months, sometimes by mail or by telephone, but especially when he invited listeners to phone in to make their comments on the air. His home was the target of an attack with a small explosive device on 15 October, and a municipal official struck him on 22 November.

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