Héctor Ramírez

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Local or Foreign:
Ramírez, a reporter for Guatemala's Noti 7 television station and Radio Sonora, died from a heart attack after fleeing from attackers who were beating him while he was covering protests in the capital, Guatemala City, according to autopsy results.

On July 24, riots erupted across Guatemala City after the Supreme Court's July 20 decision granting two opposition parties an injunction temporarily barring former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt from running for president in the November 9 elections. A later ruling allowed Ríos Montt to run in the poll, which he lost.

Supporters of Ríos Montt's political party, the Guatemalan Republican Front (FRG), attacked other journalists in different areas of the capital, sources told CPJ. "It was crazy, the mob was completely out of control," Haroldo Sánchez, news director for Guatevisión television station, told CPJ. According to CPJ sources, government authorities and the National Police did little to control the protesters.

In August, Ramírez's family filed a criminal complaint against President Alfonso Portillo Cabrera, several government ministers, Ríos Montt, and high-ranking FRG officials, accusing them of being responsible for the journalist's death.

In an October meeting with a CPJ delegation, Marco Antonio Cortez, the Attorney General Office's special prosecutor for crimes against journalists and trade unionists, told CPJ that he had asked the Supreme Court to initiate preliminary proceedings (antejuicios) against President Portillo, Ríos Montt, and other high-ranking government officials to determine if their immunity can be lifted so they can be tried as private citizens. As of December, the proceedings had not yet begun.

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