Gunmen kill cameraman in El Salvador

New York, April 27, 2011–Veteran Salvadoran cameraman and photo editor Alfredo Antonio Hurtado was shot dead by two unidentified men on Monday night while on a bus to San Salvador, where he worked. The Committee to Protect Journalists called on authorities to thoroughly investigate the killing and bring the perpetrators to justice. 

Hurtado, 39, was commuting to his job as the night cameraman for Canal 33’s “Teleprensa” news program from his home in nearby Ilopango at around 7 p.m. when two men boarded the bus and shot him multiple times, hitting him in the chest and head, killing him instantly, according to local press reports and CPJ interviews. The assailants, believed to be gang members, fled the crime scene and disappeared into the surrounding neighborhood, which is known for gang activity. News reports citing police said that none of the journalists’ possessions were taken and that no suspects had been apprehended.

Police are investigating several possible motives for the killing, news reports said. Narciso Castillo, director of Canal 33, told CPJ that Hurtado’s journalistic work had not been ruled out citing his coverage of gang violence. Hurtado had been with “Teleprensa” for two years, Castillo said.

“The boldness of this murder shows that the killers had no fear,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “Salvadoran authorities must demonstrate that those who carry out violence against the press will face the full force of the law.”

CPJ research has found that journalists covering El Salvador’s widespread gang violence risk becoming targets themselves. In 2009, Christian Poveda, a French-Spanish filmmaker who had documented gang violence in El Salvador for decades, was slain by members of the Mara 18 gang. In March, 11 defendants in the murder case–including the two masterminds–were sentenced by a special tribunal for organized crime.