Global Report 03.06.05


More than a year after her assassination, six people were formally
charged last week with the murder of reporter Ivannia Mora Rodríguez in
December 2003. One of the accused is Eugenio Millot, Rodríguez’s
employer at financial magazine Summa. According to the Poder Judicial
press office, Millot, who is a Uruguayan national, and five Colombian
nationals have been charged with the capital murder and conspiracy. One
of the men charged was detained in Panama and returned to Costa Rica.
Rodríguez was gunned down on 23 December 2004 by two assailants on a
motorcycle, who shot her at close range as she sat in her car in
traffic in San José.


Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci is to face trial for allegedly
insulting the Muslim faith in her latest work, a court in Italy ruled
last week. A judge refused a request by prosecutors to have the case,
brought by the president of the Muslim Union of Italy, Adel Smith,
thrown out, ordering magistrates to proceed in the matter. The
accusations stem from her latest book, La forza della ragione (The
Force of Reason). Smith claims the book – not yet available in English
– contains “words that are without doubt offensive toward
Islam”. Agence France Presse


Reporters Without Borders reiterated its concern about systematic
violence against journalists in Russia after an attack on the head of a
press group in the southeast of the country. Dmitri Surianinov, head of
Media- Samara, was brutally beaten on 21 May by three men wielding
baseball bats. “Collusion between political and economic forces in the
Russian regions contributes to a climate of total impunity and it is
unacceptable that the systematic use of violence forces journalists
into selfcensorship,” the media watchdog said. “It is time that
Russian political leaders took adequate steps to better protect
journalists and to find and punish their assailants.” MosNews


A previously unknown Sri Lankan group calling itself the
Therapuththabhaya Brigade has claimed responsibility for the recent
murder of prominent Tamil journalist Dharmaratnam Sivaram. Sivaram was
abducted in Colombo on 28 April and his body dumped on the outskirts of
the capital. He was a senior editor of the TamilNet website (above),
known for its political sympathy with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil
Eelam. Journalists’ Network


On 21 May, Marilú Gambini Lostanau, a freelance journalist in the
northern province of Chimbote, reported that unidentified individuals
entered her home, searched through her personal effects and took
several videos. Lostanau, who was not at home at the time, dismissed
the possibility that it might have been a random break-in. She said she
had filed the customary complaints at the local police station. She
believes the stolen material had no journalistic value. On 28 March,
Lostanau was the victim of a similar attack. Two strangers entered her
home, restrained her and destroyed or stole various documents related
to her investigations on drug trafficking. So far those responsible
have not been identified. Lostanau receives continual threats because
of her work and has been under personal protection from the Chimbote
sub-prefect’s office since 2000. Instituto Prensa y Sociedad


Francisco Antonio Tabares and Luís Arley Ortiz Orozco have been
sentenced to 28 years in prison for their role in the assassination of
journalist Orlando Sierra, deputy director of La Patria newspaper, in
Manizales. Tabares and Ortiz were found guilty of participating in the
organisation of Sierra’s murder, the first as the leader of the group
of hired killers and the second as the person who provided the weapon
to Luís Fernando Soto Zapata, who shot Sierra. Soto was sentenced to 19
years and six months in prison for murdering the journalist. Sierra was
shot twice in the head by Soto as he was entering the newspaper’s
premises on 20 January 2002. He died two days later. He was well known
for his opinion column Punto de Encuentro, in which he criticised
public corruption in the department of Caldas. Foundation for Press


An Algerian court sentenced a journalist to one year in jail last
week for defaming President Abdelazi Bouteflika, in the latest libel
case brought by authorities against the independent media. Farid
Alilat, ex-editor of national daily Liberte, was sentenced over one
editorial and two articles. The court also fined leading cartoonist Ali
Dilem 50,000 dinars and acquitted a columnist working for the paper in
two other separate cases. Reuters


Augusto “Gus” Abelgas, a TV reporter for the ABS-CBN network, sought
the help of the police last week after receiving a death threat
purportedly from the Alex Boncayao Brigade, a former hit squad of the
New People’s Army. Abelgas said he had received a package containing a
.38 calibre bullet and a letter, allegedly from the ABB, accusing him
of “biased” reporting in the TV programme Private I. The letter said
Abelgas’ biased reporting and “irresponsible” accusations had tarnished
the reputation of innocent people and conscientious law enforcers.
“Your programme should be responsible enough to face two sides of the
coins, otherwise there will be imbalances, which may cause death,” the
letter said. Abelgas believes a police chief inspector and an informer
of the National Bureau of Investigation could be behind the death
threat. He said the two were arrested for trying to extort money from a
Norwegian in April. The arrests, he added, were shown in Private I
last month. The Manila Times

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