September 5, 2001, in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala
Alegría, who also worked as a part-time correspondent for the national radio network Emisoras Unidas, had reportedly been threatened on three different occasions after broadcasting stories about corruption. In addition, one of his colleagues told the press that local officials had tried to bribe Alegría to keep him quiet about their activities.
Police detained two suspects in connection with Alegría's murder. One suspect had a 9 mm handgun whose bullets apparently matched those found at the crime scene. Preliminary investigations by the Puerto Barrios prosecutor's office revealed that the handgun had recently fired six shots.
CPJ published a news alert about the murder on September 18.
On September 20, the Ombudsman's Office for Human Rights (PDH) released the results of its investigations. The report concluded that Alegría's murder was politically motivated and was probably masterminded by local officials in retaliation for the journalist's coverage of corruption in Puerto Barrios. The PDH added that the two suspects in police custody were scapegoats. A report with the PDH's findings was sent to the newly created Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Journalists.
In early October, the two suspects were released after ballistics test proved that the confiscated handgun was not the murder weapon.
At year's end, the Puerto Barrios prosecutor's office and police were investigating Alegría's murder as either a crime of passion, a politically motivated crime, or a common crime. However, they have not offered any evidence to support their theories. According to the news agency CERIGUA, a local prosecutor declared that a political motivation could neither be ruled out nor confirmed.
Job: Broadcast Reporter
Beats Covered: Corruption
Local or Foreign: Local
Type of Death: Murder
Suspected Source of Fire: Government Officials
Taken Captive: No