Journalists Killed  |  Peru

Antonio de la Torre Echeandía

Radio Órbita

February 14, 2004, in Yungay, Peru

De la Torre, host of "El equipo de la noticia" (The News Team) on Radio Órbita in the city of Yungay, in the northern department of Ancash, was murdered after leaving a party in the evening.

Two unidentified men stabbed the 43-year old journalist as he was heading home. According to local news reports quoting his wife and son, de la Torre identified one of his attackers as "El Negro," a nickname for Hipólito Casiano Vega Jara, a driver for the Yungay mayor's office. Police have arrested Vega. Antonio Torres, a friend of de la Torre who allegedly led the journalist to the scene of his murder, was also arrested.

De la Torre was a harsh critic of his former friend, Yungay Mayor Amaro León, whom he accused of malfeasance. In 2002, de la Torre had worked as a campaign chief for León, the Lima-based daily La República reported. After León won the elections, he appointed de la Torre head of the municipality's public relations office. The two parted ways three months into León's tenure as mayor, when de la Torre resigned after discovering several instances of alleged corruption, according to La República.

Julio César Giraldo Ángeles, owner of Radio Órbita, said that de la Torre had been threatened and attacked several times. In October 2003, Giraldo said, unidentified individuals had hurled a homemade bomb at the journalist's home in the middle of the night. The explosion did not cause major damage, and de la Torre was able to put out the fire. De la Torre had also received several anonymous threatening letters, Giraldo said.

De la Torre's family has blamed Mayor León for the murder, but León has rejected any involvement in the crime.

On March 17, at the request of the Yungay Public Prosecutor's Office, an Ancash court ordered León and his daughter detained on charges of masterminding de la Torre's murder in an attempt to silence the journalist. According to Prosecutor Luz Marina Romero, two other municipal workers were charged as accomplices in the crime. The four were jailed in a prison in Huaraz, the capital of Ancash Department. Another man charged in the murder remained a fugitive.

In 2006, the Supreme Court reversed the court's decision, finding the evidence circumstantial and the motive insufficient. The convicted killers were released, and León retook office immediately.


Medium: Radio

Job: Broadcast Reporter

Beats Covered: Crime, Politics

Gender: Male

Local or Foreign: Local

Freelance: No

Type of Death: Murder

Suspected Source of Fire: Government Officials

Impunity: Yes

Taken Captive: No

Tortured: No

Threatened: Yes


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