Radio news host shot and killed

New York, January 11, 2005—Gunmen shot and killed a veteran Colombian radio news host early this morning in the city of Cúcuta, in the unstable northeastern region near the Venezuelan border. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating the murder to determine whether it was related to his journalism.

Two armed motorcyclists shot Julio Hernando Palacios Sánchez, 55, as he drove to work around 5:30 a.m. Palacios, who hosted the morning program “Radio Periódico El Viento” on Radio Lemas, was shot three times in the chest, said the local police chief, Col. José Humberto Henao.

Despite his wounds, Palacios drove back home and his family took him to a local hospital. He died two hours after arriving at San José Hospital in Cúcuta, Henao told CPJ. He did not speculate about a motive, saying local police have offered a reward for information leading to the capture of the gunmen.

Palacios was a controversial and outspoken journalist who devoted a segment of his program to denouncing local corruption, sources told CPJ. He survived an attack nine years ago when assailants hurled a grenade into his office that failed to explode, The Associated Press reported. Palacios was a political conservative known for supporting President Álvaro Uribe.

For the first time in more than a decade, CPJ documented no case in 2004 in which a journalist was killed for his or her work in Colombia. Colombian journalists told CPJ that dozens of murders over two decades have seeded fear among provincial reporters, causing them to avoid sensitive coverage of the ongoing civil war.