Gustavo Rojas Gabalo

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Rojas, 56, host of “El Show de El Gaba” on Radio Panzenú, was shot by unidentified gunmen on February 4 in the northwestern city of Montería, Córdoba province. He died on March 20 from complications at a hospital in Medellín, capital of the central Antioquia province.

Two men aboard a motorcycle approached Rojas as he opened his car outside a liquor store he owned in Montería. Witnesses said one of the assailants got off the motorcycle, argued with Rojas, and shot him twice at close range, the local press reported. One bullet shattered Rojas’ collarbone, while the other caused severe head injuries.

Rojas underwent repeated surgery for head injuries in Montería, his physician, Jesús Jímenez Isaza, told CPJ. On March 18, Rojas was moved to the Salucoop Clinic in Medellín to receive specialized medical attention, his daughter Erly Rojas said.

Known as “El Gaba,” Rojas had been on the air for more than 30 years. His popular “El Show de El Gaba” featured music, news, and commentary that often focused on government corruption. He had earned a regional reputation for voicing listeners’ social and political concerns.

In April, local police arrested four men in connection with the murder. Luis Armando Díaz Berrocal, the local prosecutor in charge of the case, told CPJ that two were paramilitary fighters. The four denied involvement in the slaying, he said. Díaz said that Rojas’ journalism–especially his criticism of local officials and paramilitary forces–was considered a strong motive. Local reporters also told CPJ that they believe his tough commentary had sparked retaliation.

National police detained the four men for a time; after being freed, the suspects were themselves killed one by one.