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Chilean radio journalist murdered by uniformed men in Itapúa department

(SPP/IFEX) - According to a police report, Tito Alberto Palma Godoy, a radio journalist based in Mayor Otaño - a town in the department of Itapúa, in southeastern Paraguay - was shot dead on the night of 22 August 2007, by two people wearing military uniforms. He was with his wife, Wilma Martínez, who was also shot, and his father-in-law, Aparicio Martínez, at the time of the murder. Palma Godoy, of Chilean nationality, had settled in Paraguay several years before. The SPP condemns this murder and asks the government to conduct a thorough investigation of the case to ensure the punishment of the masterminds as well as the direct perpetrators of this crime.

Palma Godoy was a diligent journalist for a community radio station in Mayor Otaño and also provided periodic reports for Chaco Boreal radio station, based in Asunción, the national capital. He had already received several threats for his critical reporting, which had unfortunately not been taken into consideration by state security bodies, including the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público) and the police.

Several years ago, an attempt had been made to expel Palma Godoy from the country, also due to his coverage of the situation in Itapúa.

He reported on contraband fuel operations, drug trafficking and the connections between criminals and politicians.

Itapúa is one of the departments where journalists have most been under attack by criminal groups. In February 2006, Juan Augusto Roa, a correspondent for "ABC Color" newspaper in the Itapúa department capital, Encarnación, was the victim of a murder attempt which almost cost him his life. In May 2007, Oscar Bogado, an "Ultima Hora" newspaper correspondent also based in Encarnación, was the target of a series of acts of intimidation, including telephone calls, being followed by individuals in suspicious vehicles and strangers breaking into his home. Criminal groups also murdered journalists Santiago Leguizamón, Calixto Mendoza, Salvador Medina and Samuel Román, and abducted Enrique Galeano. None of the people responsible for any of these crimes has been punished.

This tragic situation demonstrates the tremendous power of organised crime, which controls large areas of Paraguay and operates with impunity guaranteed by state bodies.

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