Bogotá, January 11, 2023 — Peruvian authorities must thoroughly investigate a hit-and-run that injured journalists Luis Angulo and Pablo Torres and determine whether the attackers targeted them for their reporting, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Wednesday.
Torres, a reporter for the independent TV and radio station La Ribareña, and Angulo, the outlet’s co-owner, had just finished a live radio broadcast near the northern town of San Pablo early in the morning of Thursday, January 5, when a pickup truck began following their motorcycle, according to news reports and Torres, who spoke to CPJ via WhatsApp.
The white truck had tinted windows and followed them for approximately 10 minutes before speeding up and hitting the back of the motorcycle, knocking Angulo and Torres into a ditch, according to those sources. The truck then briefly stopped at the scene before speeding away, Torres said, who added, “I think they were checking to see if we were dead.”
Torres told CPJ he believed he was targeted for reporting on alleged corruption and mismanagement by the local government in the nearby town of Bellavista, where La Ribareña is based. Among his reports, Torres said, were stories on overpriced public contracts, town machinery that had been stolen, and the frequent failure of the mayor to show up for work.
“Peruvian police must conduct a swift and transparent investigation to determine whether attackers targeted La Ribareña journalists Luis Angulo and Pablo Torres for their work,” said Carlos Martinez de la Serna, CPJ’s program director, from New York. “Attacks on journalists investigating corruption are very concerning, and authorities must bring those responsible to justice.”
Torres was bruised all over his body and said he walked to a nearby police station for help. Angulo was unconscious with a broken pelvis that required surgery, Torres said, adding that Angulo remains hospitalized. Torres filed a report with the police later that day.
Fernando Ruíz, a reporter for the Bellavista station Radio Ritmo, told CPJ by WhatsApp that Torres’ reporting had been “very critical” of former Bellavista mayor Eduar Guevara, whose term ended on December 31, 2022.
About two hours before the attack, Torres received text messages from Guevara, asking where he was and expressing his frustration with his reporting, according to the journalist and screenshots reviewed by CPJ. Torres said he responded, informing Guevara of his location.
Later that day, Guevara posted to Facebook expressing solidarity with Angulo and Torres, adding that he had been tolerant of press criticism while mayor. CPJ’s text messages to Guevara did not receive a response.
CPJ’s phone calls to the San Pablo police and the press office of Peru’s attorney general did not receive any replies.