Alegría, host of a call-in show “Línea Directa,” was shot at least five
times outside his home in Puerto Barrios, a port city located on the
Caribbean coast in Izabal Department.
Alegría, who also worked as a part-time correspondent for the national
radio network Emisoras Unidas, had reportedly been threatened on three
different occasions after broadcasting stories about corruption. In
addition, one of his colleagues told the press that local officials had
tried to bribe Alegría to keep him quiet about their activities.
Police detained two suspects in connection with Alegría’s murder. One
suspect had a 9 mm handgun whose bullets apparently matched those found
at the crime scene. Preliminary investigations by the Puerto Barrios
prosecutor’s office revealed that the handgun had recently fired six
CPJ published a news alert about the murder on September 18.
On September 20, the Ombudsman’s Office for Human Rights (PDH) released
the results of its investigations. The report concluded that Alegría’s
murder was politically motivated and was probably masterminded by local
officials in retaliation for the journalist’s coverage of corruption in
Puerto Barrios. The PDH added that the two suspects in police custody
were scapegoats. A report with the PDH’s findings was sent to the newly
created Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Journalists.
In early October, the two suspects were released after ballistics test
proved that the confiscated handgun was not the murder weapon.
At year’s end, the Puerto Barrios prosecutor’s
office and police were investigating Alegría’s murder as either a crime
of passion, a politically motivated crime, or a common crime. However,
they have not offered any evidence to support their theories. According
to the news agency CERIGUA, a local prosecutor declared that a
political motivation could neither be ruled out nor confirmed.