Controversial radio journalist killed

New York, September 18, 2001—Guatemalan radio journalist Jorge Mynor Alegría Armendáriz was murdered at around 10 p.m. on the evening of September 5, CPJ has confirmed.

Alegría was shot at least five times outside his home in Puerto Barrios, a port city located on the Caribbean coast in Izabal Department. His personal effects were untouched, making robbery an unlikely motive.

Alegría hosted an afternoon call-in show called “Línea Directa” on the local station Radio Amatique. Callers often discussed corruption and official misconduct. Alegría also worked as a part-time correspondent for the national radio network Emisoras Unidas.

Guatemalan newspapers reported that the journalist had been threatened on three different occasions after broadcasting stories about corruption.

About three months ago, according to one local source, Alegría spoke on air about the threats he had received. One of Alegría’s colleagues told Emisoras Unidas that local officials had tried to bribe the journalist to keep him quiet about their activities.

CPJ continues to investigate the case to determine whether Alegría’s murder was related to his professional work.

More threats
Following Alegría’s death, his Radio Amatique colleague Enrique Aceituno resigned from his job as host of a local news program. Aceituno said he had received both death threats and attempted bribes to discourage him from criticizing local authorities.

According to local press reports, 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.

Because of Alegría’s death and Aceituno’s departure from the station, Radio Amatique no longer broadcasts local news.