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Italian journalist Antonio Russo murdered

(RSF/IFEX) - In a letter to Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze, RSF expressed outrage over the murder of Antonio Russo, an Italian radio journalist found dead on 16 October 2000 near Tbilisi.

"We ask you to personally ensure that all necessary measures are taken to actively seek out and punish those who are responsible. We await rapid results from the inquiry begun by the Georgian police, and ask the Georgian authorities to give their full support to the inquiry begun by the Italian justice system," stated Robert Ménard, the organisation's secretary-general.

According to information obtained by RSF, Russo's lifeless body was discovered on the side of a road near the town of Gombori (eighty kilometers north-east of Tbilisi) on 16 October. According to the results of the autopsy, the journalist died following a violent shock to the chest that could have been caused by a blow from an iron bar or the impact of a vehicle. According to those close to him, the journalist's apartment was searched and ransacked. His satellite telephone and laptop computer reportedly disappeared, along with three video casettes. Russo planned to return to Italy at the end of the week with these images.

Russo worked for Radio Radicale, the radio station of the Radical Party led by former European Commissioner Emma Bonino. He had been one of the only western journalists who stayed in Pristina during the NATO military intervention in spring 1999. He also covered the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The journalist had been in the Caucasus since July to cover the war in Chechnya.

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