In an interview with CPJ today, Beni Qais Security Chief Abdelrazaq Azzaraq said police have arrested five members of the Aouni family, a reputed criminal group, in connection with the slaying. Azzaraq alleged that the suspects—Ahmad Aouni and four of his sons—carried out the murder in retaliation for the reporter’s coverage.
“We are saddened by
the murder of Muhammad
al-Rabou'e and offer our
condolences to his family and colleagues,” said Mohamed Abdel Dayem, CPJ’s
Middle East and
The five suspects had been arrested on charges of assaulting al-Rabou'e in December 2009, but prosecutors did not pursue charges in court, Azzaraq said. “We take full responsibility for releasing them in late 2009,” he said, “but we will make sure that they are brought to justice this time around.”
Al-Rabou’e had received several death threats in connection with his articles about the Aouni family's activities, including alleged child trafficking, according to Al Qahira Editor-in-Chief Muhammad Darman. “Al-Rabou’e was brave and committed to his journalistic mission” Darman told CPJ. “He has uncovered many corruption cases in the course of his career and has received many death threats, but not once had he thought of putting an end to his work”