Medellín, October 4, 2018–Peru’s National Criminal Chamber today acquitted former interior minister and current mayoral candidate Daniel Urresti of murder charges for the 1988 killing of war correspondent Hugo Bustíos, according to news reports. A lawyer for the Bustíos family said they would appeal, the reports said.
“CPJ is extremely disappointed by today’s acquittal of Daniel Urresti,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick. “Hugo Bustíos’ family and colleagues have already waited 30 years to see justice for his murder and now they must keep waiting. Today’s decision is a major setback in the fight against impunity in Peru and a blow for journalist safety.”
Before he was killed, Bustíos, a reporter for the Lima news magazine Caretas and president of the National Association of Journalists of the city of Huanta, was investigating abuses against the civilian population perpetrated by the Peruvian armed forces in Ayacucho, according to CPJ research.
CPJ, Human Rights Watch, and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) brought the case before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which in 1997 found the Peruvian state responsible for the murder of Bustíos. In 2007, a Peruvian court found the commander of the Huanta military base and another officer guilty of killing Bustíos. In February 2015, Urresti, who was the intelligence chief at the Huanta base in 1988, was formally charged with murder. In September of that year CPJ published a special report on the charges against him. In October of that year, Urresti withdrew his nomination for a 2016 presidential bid.