Honduran journalist shot to death

New York, July 6, 2009–An unidentified gunman shot and killed Honduran journalist Gabriel Fino Noriega on Friday in the town of San Juan Pueblo, according to local press reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Honduran authorities today to conduct a thorough investigation into Noriega’s killing and bring those responsible to justice.

Noriega, who worked for local radio station Estelar, TV Channel 9, and as a correspondent for national station Radio América in San Juan Pueblo, 217 miles (350 kilometers) north of the capital Tegucigalpa, was gunned down after leaving the radio station at around 5 p.m., police spokesman César Wilfredo Ardón told CPJ. Noriega was shot at 11 times and badly injured, Ardón said. The journalist died on route to a local hospital.    

Noriega reported on general news, according to local press reports. Police said they are investigating the case but so far have no suspects. Investigators are considering his work as a journalist as a possible motive, said Ardón.

A political crisis under way following the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya on June 29 has seriously affected the press freedom climate in this country but initial reports have not linked the killing to the crisis, according to Honduran station Radio América.

Noriega is the second reporter killed in Honduras this year. On March 31, gunmen shot and killed radio journalist Rafael Munguía Ortiz in the northern city of San Pedro Sula. Munguía, a local correspondent for national Radio Cadena Voces, reported on violence and organized crime, according to CPJ research. There have been no arrests in this case.