Radio journalist killed in Honduras

New York, April 1, 2009–Gunmen shot and killed Honduran radio journalist Rafael Munguía Ortiz Tuesday night in the northern city of San Pedro Sula, according to local news reports. Honduran authorities must conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into Munguía’s killing and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. 

At 6 p.m. on Tuesday, unidentified armed individuals in a green car shot Munguía, local correspondent for national Radio Cadena Voces (RCV), on a street in the Medina neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, 107 miles (173 kilometers) northwest of the capital city of Tegucigalpa, according to news reports and CPJ interviews. Eric Peñalva, spokesman for the investigative police, told CPJ that Munguía died immediately from seven gunshot wounds from a 9mm weapon.

Mungía, 52, had a long history working as a journalist in San Pedro Sula, and had worked for RCV for more than two years, his colleague Melissa Amaya told CPJ. He had recently reported on violence and organized crime, Amaya said.

“We are saddened by the death of Rafael Munguía Ortiz and send our condolences to his family, colleagues, and friends,” said Robert Mahoney, CPJ’s deputy director. “RCV has already lost one of its reporters because of its investigations. We call on Honduran authorities to thoroughly investigate his killing and immediately bring all those responsible to justice.”

In October 2007, Carlos Salgado, host of the radio program “Frijol el Terrible” on RCV, was shot and killed as he was leaving the station’s offices in Tegucigalpa. Colleagues and the Honduran Commissioner of Human Rights, Ramón Custodio López, told CPJ they believed Salgado’s killing was in retaliation for the station’s investigative reporting on official corruption. According to Amaya, there have been no arrests.

According to Peñalva, investigators are looking into alleged threats against the reporter. Amaya said that she did not know of any previous harassment of the reporter. Police are investigating several motives but have discarded robbery as a possibility, Peñalva said.