Colombia: Two cameramen killed by unknown gunmen

New York, November 30, 1999 — CPJ is deeply concerned about the November 28 murder of cameramen Alberto Sánchez Tovar and Luis Alberto Rincón Solano outside the town of El Playón, in the north-eastern department of Santander.

On the morning of November 28, the two cameramen left Bucaramanga, capital of Santander Department, to shoot a video of the mayoral elections in El Playón. Armed individuals shot and killed them on the road just outside of El Playón, where colleagues found their bodies later that day. Both men died from bullet wounds to the head.

Sánchez Tovar was the owner of Producciones Colombia, a Bucaramanga-based company that produced institutional and broadcast videos. Josue Jaimes Caballero, one of the mayoral candidates, had hired him as campaign videographer. Sánchez Tovar then hired Rincón Solano, a freelance cameraman who had formerly worked for the local production company Comuneros Televisión, to assist him in the job.

Although both men had covered various Colombian civil war factions in the past, it is not yet clear whether they were killed because of their journalistic work. In a letter of inquiry faxed today to Attorney General Alfonso Gómez Méndez, CPJ urged Colombian authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into these murders, as well as the murders of journalists Jaime Garzón, Guzmán Quintero Torres, and Rodolfo Julio Torres, who all died in the line of duty this year.