Atilano Segundo Pérez Barrios

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Pérez, 52, host of the weekly program "El Diario de Marialabaja," was killed by an unidentified assailant who forced his way into the journalist's Cartagena apartment at around 9 p.m. and shot him twice in the abdomen, a family member told CPJ. The assailant then fled on the back of a motorcycle. Pérez was pronounced dead at the Hospital Universitario del Caribe.

Local journalists said Pérez had been consistently critical of local paramilitary activity. He leased a one-hour, Sunday-morning time slot from Radio Vigía de Todelar for his program, "El Diario de Marialabaja," Station Manager Doris Jiménez told CPJ. The show focused on news from Pérez's hometown of Marialabaja, 37 miles (60 kilometers) south of Cartagena.

Ricardo Carriazo, the local prosecutor in charge of the case, told CPJ that Pérez had fled his hometown because of work-related threats. Authorities believed the murder was linked to Pérez's comments on local paramilitary activities, although they had not conclusively ruled out other motives, Carriazo said.

Jairo Baena, president of a local journalists union, told CPJ that Pérez often denounced government corruption and paramilitary influence in Marialabaja. In his last show, on August 20, he accused the five candidates for mayor of Marialabaja of being financed by right-wing paramilitary groups, the local press reported. The family member told CPJ that Pérez had received recent death threats.

Pérez had been a member of the Marialabaja town council and a deputy in the Bolívar provincial assembly a decade earlier, but he was no longer involved in politics, the Cartagena-based daily El Universal reported. Pérez, while not a lawyer, also provided assistance in legal cases related to the public transportation system, according to the local press freedom group Fundación para la Libertad de Prensa.

Investigators identified two men with links to local paramilitary groups as the likely perpetrators, provincial police Cmdr. Luís Angulo told CPJ. Police found the two men dead a few days after the murder, he said.

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