Seventh Honduran journalist killed since March

New York, June 15, 2010—An unidentified attacker gunned down TV journalist Luis Arturo Mondragón late Monday night in the city of El Paraíso, eastern Honduras, according to local news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Honduran authorities to fully investigate Mondragón’s killing, the seventh in the country this year.

Mondragón, 53, owner and news director for the cable television station Channel 19, was shot to death as he left work at around 10 p.m. in El Paraíso, near the border with Nicaragua. A police spokesman quoted by the Tegucigalpa-based daily La Prensa said Mondragón was shot four times. The journalist died at the scene, the press reported.

Mondragón reported mainly local news, including government corruption, environmental issues, and crime on the air.

A relative who spoke on condition of anonymity told CPJ that the journalist had been receiving anonymous death threats by phone for the past two years. Although the threatening messages were related to his work as a journalist, his family member said, they did not specify any particular story. The police have not identified any suspect nor disclosed any possible motive for the crime, Said Alexander Espinal, an official at the state prosecutor’s office, told CPJ.

“Luis Arturo Mondragón is the seventh journalist killed in Honduras this year,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s Americas program senior coordinator. “This is truly shocking. Only by prosecuting those responsible for journalists’ murders will the authorities send a message that this deadly onslaught against the press will not go unpunished.”

On April 20, TV host Jorge “Georgino” Orellana was slain by an unidentified gunman in the city of San Pedro Sula. Unidentified attackers gunned down journalists José Bayardo Mairena and Manuel Juárez in the department of Olancho on March 27. On March 14, journalist Nahúm Palacios Arteaga was killed in the city of Tocoa, while radio reporter David Meza was slain in the city of La Ceiba on March 11. On March 1, reporter Joseph Hernández Ochoa was killed in Tegucigalpa in a shooting that left another journalist seriously wounded.

CPJ is investigating whether these murders were related to the journalists’ work.