Colombia: Radio journalist murdered

October 22, 1999 12:00 PM ET

October 22, 1999

His Excellency Andrés Pastrana Arango
President of the Republic of Colombia
Casa de Nariño
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia

Your Excellency:

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is writing to express its profound indignation about yesterday's brutal murder of radio journalist Rodolfo Julio Torres in the town of San Onofre, Sucre Department. We are urging you in the strongest possible terms to launch an exhaustive investigation into this lethal attack on press freedom, the third to have taken place in Colombia in less than three months.

In the early hours of October 21, five individuals arrived at Torres' home. They drove the 38-year-old journalist to the outskirts of town. After shooting him six times, they left him dead by the side of the road.

Torres worked for the Cartagena radio station Fuente. He also worked as the press secretary for a recently elected mayor. He was formerly a correspondent with Radio Caracolí in Sincelejo, the capital of Sucre Department, and with the Sincelejo daily Meridiano.

Torres' colleagues are convinced he was assassinated in reprisal for his outspoken reporting. He covered cock fights, known as major gambling venues, as well as general politics. One year ago, a series of anonymously distributed pamphlets accused him of being affiliated with leftist guerrillas of the National Liberation Army (ELN). The pamphlets were believed to have come from the Self Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), a coalition of extreme right-wing paramilitary groups.

This is not the first time CPJ has documented the killing of a journalist in response to his work in the violence-ridden Sucre Department. On November 8, 1997, radio journalist Francisco Castro Menco, who had often called for an end to political violence in the region, was fatally shot in his home by unidentified killers.

We urge Your Excellency to launch a rigorous investigation into Torres' murder, along with the August 13 killing of Jaime Garzón and the September 16 killing of Guzmán Quintero Torres, and see to it that the authors are brought to justice.

We further ask that you make press freedom a priority of the peace negotiations that are starting this Sunday, October 24, so that the press can feel free to make its contribution to Colombia's peace process.


Ann K. Cooper
Executive Director

Join CPJ in Protesting Attacks on the Press in Colombia

Send a letter to:

His Excellency Andrés Pastrana Arango
President of the Republic of Colombia
Casa de Nariño
Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia


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