Journalist abducted

New York, March 9, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the abduction and attempted murder of a Dominican crime reporter early Wednesday morning. Unidentified assailants seized Roberto Sandoval outside his Santo Domingo home and threatened to kill him, according to news reports and a CPJ source. Sandoval escaped by jumping from a moving vehicle as his attackers fired at him.

The journalist hosts two daily programs in the capital, Santo Domingo: “Tribuna de la Noche” on Radio Comercial, and “Justo a Tiempo” on local cable television. Sandoval often reports on crime and is critical of Dominican law enforcement, colleague Ruddy Germán Pérez told CPJ.

At 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, as Sandoval was returning home from the northern city of Santiago, three gunmen surrounded his car and forced him into another vehicle, the local press reported. One assailant sped away in Sandoval’s car, while the other two drove him to a rural area about 25 miles (40 kilometers) north of the capital.

When the driver ordered his accomplice to shoot Sandoval, the journalist jumped from the vehicle, the Dominican press reported. One of the assailants’ shots grazed his back, and Sandoval suffered minor injuries. The assailants searched for Sandoval, but he hid in a wooded area until they were gone, according to press reports.

Sandoval filed a police complaint, and an investigation was opened, Germán told CPJ. The reporter and his family have temporarily left their home.

“We are deeply troubled by the attack against Roberto Sandoval,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper. “We urge Dominican authorities to thoroughly investigate this attack and bring all those responsible to justice.”