Pierre Fould Gerges

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Unidentified gunmen killed Gerges, vice president of the Caracas daily Reporte Diario de la Economía, following numerous threats against the paper’s senior administrative staff over the last year.

The killing occurred shortly after Gerges left the paper’s offices at 5:30 p.m. in a car owned by his brother Tannous Gerges, president of the daily, according to Venezuelan press reports. On his way to visit his mother, Gerges stopped at a gas station in the southeastern Caracas neighborhood of Chuao. Two unidentified individuals on a black motorcycle approached Gerges and shot him at least 12 times in the neck and torso, according to press reports.

Caracas police said Gerges was pronounced dead at the scene. Yisel Soarez, a lawyer for Reporte Diario de la Economía, told CPJ that Pierre Gerges had not been directly threatened. But she said several senior staff members, including Tannous Gerges, had received telephone and e-mail death threats since June 2007. Soarez told CPJ the threats were not linked to a specific story but rather to the daily’s general editorial stance, which had been tough on government corruption.

Venezuelan authorities said they were conducting an investigation. Soarez told CPJ that investigators did not immediately cite a motive but were looking into Gerges’ work as a possibility.