New York, March 5, 2010—Honduran authorities must investigate a shooting of two journalists on Monday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Unidentified gunmen in the capital, Tegucigalpa, killed a reporter and seriously wounded a colleague, according to local reports.
Joseph Hernández Ochoa, who hosted an entertainment program on TV station Channel 51, was driving his colleague Karol Cabrera home around 8 p.m. when two unidentified gunmen in a car shot at them in a Tegucigalpa neighborhood known as El Chile, the Honduran press reported.
Hernández, 26, died at the scene after being shot several times, while Cabrera was rushed to a local hospital with bullet wounds in the left arm, the local media reported. Cabrera, a host with private station Radio Cadena Voces, is in stable condition in a Tegucigalpa hospital.
Cabrera said she had received several anonymous death threats by phone before the shooting and had been assigned a police escort, the local press reported. The officer was at Cabrera’s home at the time of the attack, according to news reports.
“We are saddened and appalled by the shooting attack that killed Joseph Hernández Ochoa and injured Karol Cabrera,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Prosecutors must conduct a thorough investigation, determine whether this was related to their work, and bring those responsible to justice.”
An outspoken and controversial journalist, Cabrera is known for her support of the coup that ousted former president Manuel Zelaya in June 2009. In December, her daughter Kathleen Nicole Rodríguez Cabrera was shot to death in similar circumstances while she was in a car in El Chile, according to press reports. Investigators haven’t linked this killing to Cabrera’s work.
Cabrera, who hosted a television show on state-owned Channel 8 during the interim government of Roberto Micheletti, said she believes the threats were related to her work and she accused Zelaya militants of being behind the attack, the local media reported. Cabrera said she fears for her life and may leave Honduras soon.
A spokesman at the national attorney general’s office told CPJ that authorities are investigating the case but have not identified any suspects or disclosed possible motives. CPJ is monitoring the investigation to determine whether the attack is linked to the journalists’ work.
The June ouster of Zelaya, along with the bitter stalemate that ensued, damaged press freedom in Honduras and heightened partisan divisions in the news media, according to CPJ’s annual report Attacks on the Press.