New York, March 8, 2000 — CPJ is deeply saddened by the February 24 murder of Uruguayan journalist Julio César Da Rosa, owner and editor of the independent station Radio del Centro, by former local official Nery Colombo, who shot the journalist and then killed himself.
Radio del Centro broadcasts from Baltasar Brum, an isolated village in the northern department of Artigas. Colombo served as secretary of the Baltasar Brum administrative board until May 1999. He was running for re-election at the time of the murder.
Da Rosa’s widow, Euda Fernández Machado, told CPJ that Colombo had been angered when Da Rosa suggested, in a February 23 broadcast, that he was unfit to run for public office. A supermarket owner with heavy debts, Colombo was being investigated for excessive spending during his 1998-1999 stint as secretary of the administrative board.
Colombo called Da Rosa right after the February 23 broadcast, and demanded air time to defend himself, according to Fernández. Da Rosa invited him to the studio for a radio appearance at noon on February 24. No one else was present when Colombo arrived. Colombo shot Da Rosa in the heart, and then shot himself in the right temple. Da Rosa’s face was bruised, Fernández said, indicating a scuffle might have taken place before the shooting.
Da Rosa’s wife and her eldest son, the 17-year-old César Eduardo, are currently running the radio station, which Da Rosa founded over four years ago.