On March 17, two hooded individuals shot and killed Miguel Pérez Julca outside his home in the northwestern city of Jaén. His wife, Nelly Guevara, was wounded in the attack. Pérez, 38, host of the radio program "El Informativo del Pueblo" (Bulletin of the People) on local Radio Éxitos, covered local crime and allegations of government corruption. One of four suspects originally detained in connection with the murder, José Hurtado Vásquez, remained in custody in late year. According to Peruvian press reports, he was accused of hiring two gunmen to kill Pérez in retaliation for on-air criticism of his girlfriend, the director of a local nonprofit organization. Hurtado denied the accusation. Local colleagues and Lima-based journalists who spoke to CPJ said they were skeptical of the police investigation. According to the national daily La República, police had not looked into a claim made by Pérez during his last show that he planned to reveal the names of corrupt local police officers.
On May 22, the Fifth Criminal Court of Lima convicted Rocío Vásquez Goicochea, director of the weekly Investigando Chimbote in the northeastern Áncash region, of criminal defamation, the journalist told CPJ. Vásquez was given a one-year suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay 3,000 soles (US$1,000) to local businessman Samuel Dyer. Dyer filed a defamation suit against Vásquez in 2005 after the reporter wrote a series accusing Dyer's company of illegal fishing practices and corruption. The journalist told CPJ her lawyers had filed an appeal.
Orlando Rucana Cuba, director of daily news programming on Radio Melodía and Radio Alegría, told CPJ that on May 24 he received an anonymous text message from an undisclosed number threatening him and Manuel Caballero Vidal, a journalist with the television station Canal 13. Rucana told CPJ that he was not sure what coverage could have sparked the threats. The two journalists had covered a violent protest against the local mayor's change in education policies in the provincial capital, Huaraz, the day before the message was sent.
Five journalists were fired on when they witnessed what appeared to be an illegal occupation of land near the northeastern town of San Julián on June 28, said Paola Lee, a reporter for national América Televisión. The owners of the land had invited Lee; Sandro Chambergo, a reporter for the national daily Correo; Perla Polo, a camerawoman for América TV; and Gerardo Pérez and Rafael Rojas, a reporter and a photographer for La República. As the journalists and property owners stepped out of their vehicles, unidentified men began to shoot at the group. According to Lee, one of the landowners yelled, "Don't shoot, the press is here," but the gunfire intensified. None of the journalists were injured, but eight of the landowners received minor gunshot wounds.
José Ramírez, correspondent for the Lima-based daily La Primera, was threatened and his companions detained after he tried to photograph graffiti denouncing provincial Gov. César Álvarez in Huari, a city in the northeastern Áncash region. A group of local officials interrupted the assignment, threatened Ramírez, and seized the photographer's three companions. While Ramírez was able to flee, his companions were taken to a local police station, where they were roughed up. Ramírez said he later left Huari after receiving repeated telephone threats. Wilbur Avendaño, a legal representative for the local government, denied the allegations.
On November 14, the Superior Court of Ucayali sentenced two men in the 2004 murder of Alberto Rivera Fernández, host of the morning show "Transparencia" (Transparency) on the Pucallpa-based Frecuencia Oriental radio station, according to Peruvian press reports. The court sentenced Lito Fasabi to 35 years in prison and Alex Panduro Ventura to 20 years. The court acquitted Luis Valdez Villacorta, former Pucallpa mayor, and Solio Ramírez, a former government official, citing a lack of evidence. Rivera's family appealed the decision to the Peruvian Supreme Court, local press reports said. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights announced that it would investigate the decision.
On November 23, two men pointed handguns at Danilo Bautista Hernández, host of the daily news program "El Informativo del Mediodía" (Noon Report) on local Radio California, as the journalist was swimming with family members in the Yuracyacu River in the northern region of San Matín. Hernández told CPJ that witnesses came to the family's aid, forcing the assailants to flee. Officer Robert Llanos Petrel, a spokesman for the local police, told CPJ that an investigation was under way. In March, Hernández received repeated death threats from individuals who identified themselves as members of a local group that had sought education reform. The journalist had criticized the group's tactics.
A purported hit list containing the names of several journalists and signed by the leftist guerrilla group Sedero Luminoso (Shining Path) was slipped under the door of the mayor's office in Aucayacu, in the central province of Huánuco, according to Ranforte Lozano Panduro, director of local Radio Aucayacu and president of the Center for Press and Communications for the Development of the Amazon. The December 15 list, reviewed by CPJ, contained 15 names in all. The journalists named were Lozano; Novel Panduro Ruíz and Cirilo Velasquez Hilario, reporters for Radio Luz; and Segundo Ramírez Macedo, reporter for Radio Aucayacu and correspondent for the regional daily AHORA. Lozano told CPJ that he and his colleagues cover general local news. He said he believes they were targeted because they use local authorities as sources. The national police were investigating.
Journalists killed in 2007 in Peru
Miguel Pérez Julca, Radio Éxitos
March 17, 2007, Jaén
Two hooded gunmen shot and killed the popular Peruvian radio commentator in front of his wife and children, according to news reports. Eyewitnesses quoted by the Lima daily La República said the attackers opened fire as the journalist and his family were nearing the front door of their home in northwestern Peru, then sped away on a motorcycle. Pérez's wife, Nelly Guevara, was wounded in the attack.
Pérez was host of the radio program "El Informativo del Pueblo" ("Bulletin of the People") on the Jaén-based station Radio Éxitos. Pérez, 38, had covered local crime and allegations of government corruption.
Guevara told local reporters that her husband had received death threats on his cell phone in the weeks prior to his death. She said that an unknown vehicle had followed Pérez on the afternoon of March 16.
In the days following the murder, Guevara said she received telephone calls at home from unidentified people who threatened to kill her and her three children, according to Peruvian news reports. Correspondents Juan Vásquez of América Televisión and Walter Altamirano of Radio Acajú told local reporters that they had also been threatened after covering news of the murder.
Four people were detained in connection with Pérez's murder, although three were released without charge, according to the press freedom group Instituto Prensa y Sociedad. One suspect, José Hurtado Vásquez, remained in custody. Jaén police accused Hurtado of hiring two local gunmen to kill the journalist. Investigators say Hurtado was angered by on-air criticism of his girlfriend, the director of a local nonprofit organization, according to Peruvian press reports. Hurtado denied the accusation, the Lima-based daily El Comercio reported.
Local colleagues and Lima-based journalists who spoke to CPJ said they were skeptical of the police investigation. According to La República, Pérez promised during his last show that he would reveal the names of "Jaén police officers who are in cahoots with drug traffickers and protect gangs of criminals." A few hours before the murder, several witnesses saw Pérez and Police Commander Jorge Velezmoro Ruiz at a local restaurant, La República reported. Velezmoro denied having seen Pérez that day, the newspaper said.
The slaying was the first involving a Peruvian journalist since the 2004 murders of two radio commentators, Alberto Rivera in Pucallpa and Antonio de la Torre Echeandía in Yungay.
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