Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Colombia: Cops Made a "Bad Call" in Withdrawing Protection for Journalist in Tarazá

According to The Latin American Tribune, a Colombian journalist who had received death threats was gunned down in Tarazá, in the northwestern department of Antioquía, by three gunmen suspected to be in the pay of criminal gangs, police said.

Journalist Luís Carlos Cervantes, who headed radio Morena FM in Tarazá, was shot at close range several times on Tuesday (August 12) by three assailants who "boxed him in" when he was riding tandem on a motorcycle, Antioquía Police Chief Gustavo Chavarro said in a press conference.

Chavarro, who reported that Cervantes had denounced death threats received by telephone over the past four years, said preliminary investigations indicated he was murdered by criminal gangs active in the region, who have also threatened other journalists.

COMMENT: Tragically, Cervantes had been under police protection until a few weeks ago, when protective services were withdrawn following a study that concluded he was at low risk.

Whomever made that "call" obviously was reading the tea leaves correctly.

Colombia’s Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) denounced the murder and said Cervantes had been reporting threats to his life for some time now.

“In an interview with FPF at the end of 2013, Cervantes said that after the explosion of a grenade close to the radio station, he had decided to start broadcasting songs instead of news," the organization said in a statement.

FPF also said five complaints made by Cervantes had not been investigated thoroughly by the Public Prosecutor’s office.

The Journalists’ Association of Antioquía (APA) reported in July 2014 that it had issued an alert on the threats received by the journalist.

“The life of a journalist was lost due to authorities’ inability to protect those who file a complaint. We demand justice," the organization said on its Twitter feed.