De la Torre, host of “El equipo de la noticia” (The News Team)
on Radio Órbita in the city of Yungay, in the northern department
of Ancash, was murdered after leaving a party in the evening.
Two unidentified men stabbed the 43-year old journalist as he was
heading home. According to local news reports quoting his wife and
son, de la Torre identified one of his attackers as “El Negro,” a
nickname for Hipólito Casiano Vega Jara, a driver for the Yungay
mayor’s office. Police have arrested Vega. Antonio Torres, a friend
of de la Torre who allegedly led the journalist to the scene of his
murder, was also arrested.
De la Torre was a harsh critic of his former friend, Yungay Mayor
Amaro León, whom he accused of malfeasance. In 2002, de la
Torre had worked as a campaign chief for León, the Lima-based
daily La República reported. After León won the
elections, he appointed de la Torre head of the municipality’s public
relations office. The two parted ways three months into León’s
tenure as mayor, when de la Torre resigned after discovering several
instances of alleged corruption, according to La República.
Julio César Giraldo Ángeles, owner of Radio Órbita,
said that de la Torre had been threatened and attacked several times.
In October 2003, Giraldo said, unidentified individuals had hurled
a homemade bomb at the journalist’s home in the middle of the night.
The explosion did not cause major damage, and de la Torre was able
to put out the fire. De la Torre had also received several anonymous
threatening letters, Giraldo said.
De la Torre’s family has blamed Mayor León for the murder,
but León has rejected any involvement in the crime.
On March 17, at the request of the Yungay Public Prosecutor’s Office,
an Ancash court ordered León and his daughter detained on charges
of masterminding de la Torre’s murder in an attempt to silence the
journalist. According to Prosecutor Luz Marina Romero, two other municipal
workers were charged as accomplices in the crime. The four were jailed
in a prison in Huaraz, the capital of Ancash Department. Another man
charged in the murder remained a fugitive.
In 2006, the Supreme Court reversed the court’s decision, finding the
evidence circumstantial and the motive insufficient. The convicted killers were
released, and León retook office immediately.