Radio host gunned down in Colombia

Bogotá, September 16, 2013–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Colombian authorities to launch a full investigation into the murder of a radio host on Wednesday. Édison Alberto Molina, a lawyer and politician who hosted a radio program that he used to denounce government corruption, was shot and killed in the town of Puerto Berrío, according to news reports.

“Authorities must fully investigate the murder of Édison Alberto Molina, identify the motive, and bring those responsible to justice,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Clarifying and resolving this case would be an important step toward combating Colombia’s dismal record of impunity in journalist murders.”

Unidentified gunmen shot Molina four times in the face as he was headed home on his motorcycle from the radio station with his wife, according to news reports. His wife was slightly wounded, but Molina died at a local hospital, the reports said.

Molina, 40, hosted a Wednesday-night radio program, called “Consultorio Jurídico” (The Law Office), on community station Puerto Berrío Stereo. Orlando González, director of Puerto Berrío Stereo and Molina’s co-host, told CPJ that Molina often used the call-in program to accuse the government of corruption. He said Molina had received several threats in recent months, including a plastic bag filled with black dirt and unidentified bones that arrived the week before he was killed.

Molina was also a former transportation and sports secretary for the town government and a prominent lawyer. He had filed 36 lawsuits against the town government alleging corruption, cost overruns, and mismanagement of public works, González said.

Benjamin Pelayo, a reporter in Puerto Berrío for Medellín’s Teleantioquia TV station, told CPJ that Robinson Baena, a local mayor, used his own program on a community TV station to defend his administration from Molina’s accusations and deny allegations of corruption. Baena did not return calls from CPJ seeking comment.

Capt. Juan Carlos Fuentes, chief of police in the district that includes Puerto Berrío, told CPJ that authorities had offered a 20 million peso reward (about US$10,500) for information leading to the capture of Molina’s killers.

Colombia has seen a resurgence in violence and intimidation against journalists in the past year. On May 5, eight provincial reporters covering land restitution efforts by the government were threatened by a group that said they had 24 hours to abandon the northern city of Valledupar. Ricardo Calderón, who heads Semana magazine’s investigative unit, barely escaped a May 1 assassination attempt. The presence of criminal gangs known in Spanish as bandas criminales or bacrim has made Antioquia one of the most dangerous regions of Colombia for journalists, according to CPJ research.

  • For more data and analysis, visit CPJ’s Colombia page.