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Nicaragua18 May 2004

Two acquitted of complicity in murder of journalist Carlos Guadamuz

Judge Rafaela Urroz on 14 May acquitted Yadira Margarita Membreño, wife of the murderer, and Luís Alfredo Garcia, owner of the murder weapon, of complicity in the murder of journalist Carlos Guadamuz. The judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to warrant a conviction. The journalist’s family and the Public Ministry plan to appeal against the decision.

19.04.2004 - 21-year prison sentence for the murderer of Carlos Guadamuz

On 19 April, William Hurtado, 43, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison for the murder of journalist Carlos Guadamuz, and to three-and-a-half years for attempted murder of the journalist’s son, who chased him after the killing. The prosecutor, who had asked the judge Rafaela Urroz to impose the maximum penalty of 30 years, has decided to appeal. For friends and relatives of the journalist, who had challenged leading Sandinista figures, the reasons for the murder remain murky. During the trial, the killer denied that he had acted on the orders of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). Investigations are continuing. The trial is due to open on 4 May 2004 of Hurtado’s wife Yadira Membreño and Luís Alfredo García, the owner of the murder weapon. Both are charged with complicity in the crime.

11 February 2004 - Reporters Without Borders expressed its anger and concern after the murder of prominent and outspoken television journalist Carlos Guadamuz.

Guadamuz, producer and presenter of the broadcast "Dardos al Centro", put out by CDNN (also known as Channel 23), was shot dead in front of the channel’s studios as he arrived for work on 10 February.

The killer shot him several times at point blank range with a 38 revolver. Station staff immediately overpowered the gunman and he was identified as William Hurtado García. Eyewitnesses said he had been lying in wait for his victim for almost an hour.

"Reporters Without Borders welcomes the fact that the killer was arrested and your commitment to track down all those who were implicated in this cowardly act," the international press freedom organisation said, in a letter to President Enrique Bolaños

Insisting on being kept informed of the progress of the investigation, Reporters Without Borders added, "since several people believe the killing was linked to the journalist’s public stances, we call on you to do everything possible to uncover the motives for the murder."

"If it turns out to be the case that Guadamuz was killed for his opinions or his work, that would be very bad news for democracy in Nicaragua, where no journalist has been killed for several years," it added.

Guadamuz, a leading journalist, was head of public radio La Voz de Nicaragua at the time of the Sandinista revolution (1979-1990) then of Radio Ya, the radio of the Sandanista National Liberation Front (FSLN), until 2000 when he was expelled after deciding to stand for a seat on Managua’s municipal council.

He then became closer to the right-wing Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC) and got a job working for the public Canal 6 until it closed in 2002. For the past several months he rented a slot on CDNN for his daily broadcast, which was known to be very hard-hitting and fiercely critical of the FSLN.

The victim’s oldest son accused the party’s leader Daniel Ortega, of being the "chief suspect" in the death of his father. "He is my father’s biggest enemy," he told the local press.

In a statement the FSLN condemned the murder which it also described as a set up. "This murder was carried out to make it look like the FSLN was behind it. There is no doubt about that," said Tomás Borge, deputy general secretary of the party.

In this country
21 October - Nicaragua
Reporters Without Borders writes to president Daniel Ortega about poor state of public fredoms
10 October - Nicaragua
Political and judicial harassment of NGOs threatens freedom of expression and association
22 August - Nicaragua
Adolfo Olivas Olivas’ presumed killer placed in custody
28 January - Nicaragua
Ex-mayor found guilty of deliberately shooting journalist María José Bravo
11 February - Nicaragua
Reporters Without Borders expresses anger and concern after murder of journalist

in the annual report
Nicaragua - Annual report 2006

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Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
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Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

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