Reporter killed outside electoral office

New York, November 10, 2004—Reporter María José Bravo, who was covering a dispute over recent elections, was killed yesterday, November 9, outside an electoral office in the city of Juigalpa, capital of central Chontales Department.

The 26-year-old Bravo, a correspondent for the Managua daily La Prensa in Chontales, had just exited the Juigalpa vote-counting center and was talking to several people when she was shot once at close range at around 6:30 p.m., La Prensa reported. She was taken to a hospital in Juigalpa but was declared dead on arrival.

Bravo was covering protests by supporters of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), which has a majority in the National Assembly, and supporters of the Alliance for the Republic (APRE) coalition, which backs President Enrique Bolaños Geyer. Both sides were challenging the results of the November 7 elections in two municipalities.

Yesterday evening, police detained Eugenio Hernández González, a former PLC mayor of the town of El Ayote, and identified him as the main suspect in Bravo’s death, according to La Prensa. Police took a .38-caliber handgun from Hernández. Some witnesses interviewed by La Prensa claimed to have seen Hernández reach for a handgun just before Bravo was shot. It is unclear whether Bravo was targeted, and, if so, what the motive for her killing was.

After the results of the November 7 elections were announced this week confirming a major victory for the opposition Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and a significant defeat for the PLC, several incidents of political violence occurred throughout Nicaragua.

“We are saddened by the death of our colleague,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We urge Nicaraguan authorities to investigate Bravo’s death promptly and bring those responsible to justice.”