Newspaper reporter Pablo Medina was shot dead in an ambush on the 16 october 2014 in the northeastern department Canindeyú, in a region notorious for trafficking in marijuana and timber. An assistant accompanying him was also fatally injured.
Medina was returning from doing a report in the Ko’ê Porã indigenous community in Villa Ygatimí, 50 km north of Curuguaty, when two men stopped him and asked him to identify himself. They then shot him several times in the head and chest, killing him on the spot. His assistant, Antonia Almada, died on the way to hospital from the injury she received.
Aged 53, Medina was a correspondent for ABC Color, one of Paraguay’s leading dallies. President Horacio Cartes issued a statement promising that the government would “carry out all appropriate investigations in order to solve this tragic case as quickly as possible.”
The target of repeated threats because of his coverage of drug tracking, Medina had been assigned police protection in the past, but it was withdrawn in September 2013. The police said they thought drug traffickers were responsible for his murder, and arrested four suspects the night following the crime.
“We express our heartfelt condolences to the families of Pablo Medina and his assistant, Antonia Almada, and we urge the authorities to conduct an independent investigation in order to identify the perpetrators and masterminds of this murder,” Reporters Without Borders programme director Lucie Morillon said.
“The authorities must also shed light on the reason why Medina was no longer under police protection, given that he was the target of constant threats. Threatened journalists must be given be given protection. A state has a duty to protect journalists working in its territory and to combat impunity for crimes of violence against them.”
Medina’s brother, fellow journalist Salvador Medina, was himself murdered in the same region on 5 January 2001 after criticizing the region’s traffickers on his programme on community radio Ñemity FM. The perpetrator was sentenced to 25 years in prison but the police never identified the masterminds.
Pablo Medina is the third journalist to be killed this year. Edgar Fernández Fleitas and Fausto Gabriel Alcaraz were murdered near the Brazilian border in June and May respectively in connection with their coverage of stories related to corruption and organized crime.
Paraguay is ranked 105th out of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.