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IAPA asks attorney general to investigate complaints about handling of murdered journalist's case

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 27 May 2004 IAPA press release:

IAPA asks Peru's Attorney General to investigate complaints on murder of journalist

Miami (May 27, 2004) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its concern and requested today that the Peruvian Attorney General take the necessary steps to investigate complaints about the official handling of the case of journalist Alberto Rivera Fernández, who was murdered on April 21.

An IAPA delegation visited Lima last week and, after meeting with Rivera Fernandez's relatives, detected "an unusual silence regarding the case and lack of government action, and, as is known to the public, both the relatives of the victim as well as possible witnesses have been threatened," the organization noted in a letter sent to the nation's Attorney General, Nelly Calderón Navarro.

According to Patricia Rivera and José Marrou, daughter and son-in-law of the journalist, respectively, "several of the witnesses have excused themselves and others have disappeared or have not been able to be located." Rivera also complained that she has received threats aimed at thwarting her efforts to demand justice in her father's murder.

The letter, signed by the chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Rafael Molina, from El Nacional, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, requests that the authorities "immediately take the necessary actions and resolutions to investigate complaints about the irregularities observed in the handling of the case, so that this murder is solved in its entirety."

Rivera Fernández hosted the program Transparencia (Transparency) on Frecuencia Oriental radio station in Pucallpa, Peru. On April 21, 2004, he was intercepted by two suspects who shot him at point blank range. On his program he criticized the work of local officials, especially Luis Valdez Villacorta, mayor of Coronel Portillo, in Pucallpa province, who, according to relatives, had threatened the journalist.

For the last nine years the IAPA has been developing its hemisphere-wide project against impunity, which receives financial support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and includes a public ad campaign, investigative reporting, training of journalists in danger zones and monitoring of press freedom in the Americas.

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