Orel Sambrano

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Sambrano, 62, director of the local political weekly ABC de la Semana and broadcaster Radio América, was shot by a motorcycle-riding assailant outside a video store in the northern city of Valencia, according to local news reports and CPJ interviews.

Sambrano, also a practicing lawyer, was known locally for his investigations and commentaries on local politics, local reporters told CPJ. Prior to his death, he had reported extensively on drug trafficking for ABC de la Semana and Radio América, according to news reports and CPJ interviews.

On February 13, 2009, Venezuelan authorities arrested Rafael Segundo Pérez, a former sergeant for the Carabobo police, in connection with Sambrano’s killing. Pérez was accused of being a hired assassin, police told the local press.

The prosecutor’s office also alleges that local businessman Walid Makled plotted the crime in retaliation for Sambrano’s stories on the links between the businessman’s brother and drug traffickers, the national newspaper El Universal reported. Former police officer David Antonio Yánez Inciarte and two members of Los Piloneros criminal gang, Arístides José Carvajal Salgado and Víctor Reales Hoyo allegedly carried out the slaying, according to local press reports. Carvajal was identified as the gunman by the prosecutor’s office.

Venezuelan investigative police arrested Yánez during a raid in February 2010, in the city of Moron, Carabobo state, according to press reports. Carvajal died in a shooting involving the Venezuelan investigative police, El Universal reported on March 27, 2010. Reales and Makled remain fugitives.

On May 18, 2010, a court of Carabobo state sentenced former sergeant Pérez to 25 years in prison on conspiracy charges related to the murder, according to Venezuelan press reports. The court found that the he had monitored Sambrano’s daily routine and provided the information to the killers, the Caracas-based newspaper El Nacional reported.

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