New York, February 9, 2010—In a controversial ruling, a Peruvian tribunal acquitted on Monday two alleged masterminds in the 2004 murder of radio reporter Alberto Rivera Fernández, the local press reported. The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Peruvian judicial authorities to review the ruling and ensure that all those responsible for killing Rivera, left, are brought to justice.
Luis Valdez and Solio Ramírez, two former public officials
in the town of Coronel Portillo, Loreto Department, were acquitted of plotting
Rivera’s killing after the Lima Superior Court found there was insufficient
evidence to convict them of “instigating murder” under the criminal code, the
Peruvian press reported. The district attorney’s office had requested the
tribunal sentence the accused to 20 years in prison.
“This verdict is a disappointment to many in the Peruvian
media who see it as a signal that crimes against journalists will go
unpunished,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ senior program coordinator for
the Americas. “We call on the appeals court to overturn this decision and ensure
a retrial that will hear all evidence.”
Rivera’s family filed a petition of annulment before the
Peruvian Supreme Court of Justice today, the family’s lawyer, Carlos Rivera,
told CPJ. If the Supreme Court accepts the request, Valdez and Ramírez could face a new trial,
the lawyer said. The district attorney filed another petition to annul the
ruling on Monday, Carlos Rivera said. The Supreme Court can annul the judicial
proceedings by the lower court.
According to the lawyer, the evidence presented during the
trial showed a clear link between Valdez
and Ramírez and the plot to kill Rivera. Witness accounts, especially those
from two convicted felons in the crime, provided strong evidence against the
former officials, Rivera said. The tribunal of three judges alleged that the convicted killers had changed their versions of
the facts on several occasions.
On April 12, 2004, two unidentified gunmen shot
Rivera to death at the glass store the journalist owned in the city of Pucallpa, Department of
Ucayali. He had hosted the morning show “Transparencia” (Transparency),
broadcast daily on Frecuencia Oriental radio station. Rivera was an outspoken
and controversial radio commentator known for his sharp criticism of local and
regional authorities. He had accused then-Mayor Valdez of corruption in the sale of land
occupied by squatters.
In November 2007, the Superior Court of Ucayali sentenced
Lito Fasabi, aka Chino Lito, to 35 years for killing Rivera, and Alex Panduro
Ventura, aka Trolón, to 20 years for acting as an intermediary between the
killer and the mastermind. According to media reports, both Fasabi and Panduro
said that Valdez
and Ramírez were the masterminds behind Rivera’s murder.
is former mayor of Coronel Portillo, and Ramirez is a former municipal official.
Valdez is also facing
money laundering charges, the Peruvian media reported.