Two journalists killed

New York, February 17, 2006— The Committee to Protect Journalists today called for investigations into two incidents in which journalists have been shot dead in Ecuador this week. In both cases it is unclear whether the journalists were killed for their work.

On Monday, radio reporter José Luis Léon Desiderio was killed in the coastal city of Guayaquil. León, host of a daily news program “Opinión” on local Radio Minutera, often denounced gang violence and police inaction in the city, Alejandro Alvarez, a reporter for the daily El Universo told CPJ.

León’s wife and daughter found his body near their home early Tuesday. León had been shot three times and had not been robbed, El Universo reported.

León had received anonymous calls at Radio Minutera threatening consequences if he continued to report on gangs. He criticized in particular gangs in the Bastión Popular district where he lived, Alvarez said. Local police are investigating the shooting but have not commented on possible motives.

Less is known about the circumstances behind the murder of freelance photographer Raúl Suárez Sandoval who was shot dead on Tuesday in the city of Durán, near Guayaquil.

“We urge the authorities to conduct a thorough and timely investigation into these murders and bring those responsible to justice” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper.