September 20, 2011 - Updated on January 20, 2016

Three murder suspects arrested amid growing risk of pressure on investigators

There has been encouraging progress in the investigation into the 7 September murder of Canal 6 TV programme director Pedro Alonso Flores Silva in the northwestern city of Casma. Police say they arrested three suspected perpetrators between 14 and 16 September.

They are Emilio José Ciriaco Ágreda, 21, also known as “Macuto,” Rubén Darío Castillo Antaihua, 38, also known as “El Viejo,” and a man so far only identified as “Alex.” During a search of the home of Castillo, who has a police record, the police said they found the murder weapon, as well as a ski mask and two motorcycles allegedly used in the murder.

Castillo has reportedly confessed to his involvement, and to recruiting Ciriaco with the intention of just “scaring” the victim. According to the newspaper Cronica Viva, he acted on the orders of a local official who even tried to bribe the investigators. This alleged mastermind’s identity has not so far been released.

“The remarkable progress in this murder investigation encourages us in the hope that the police will quickly establish the motive and identify all those responsible,” Reporters Without Borders said.

“We also hope for similar results in the two other murders of journalists this year, Radio Ollantay programme director Julio Castillo Narváez and BTV Canal 45 programme producer and host José Oquendo Reyes. In all three cases, the truth will emerge only if the investigators are able to resist all forms of pressure.”

9.09.11 - Second journalist murdered this year, authorities urged to act

Reporters Without Borders calls on the Peruvian authorities to give clear evidence of a determination to combat impunity after the second murder of a journalist in Peru this year. Shot by masked gunmen near his home in the northwestern city of Casma on 7 September, TV journalist Pedro Alonso Flores Silva died of injuries to the liver and colon yesterday.

Aged 36, Flores was the programme director of Casma’s Canal 6 TV station. The Press and Society Institute (IPYS) and the National Association of Journalists (ANP) quoted his wife and fellow journalist, Mercedes Cueva, as saying the murder was politically motivated.

Flores had been the target of frequent threats during the past three months for linking the mayor of the nearby district of Comandante Noel, Marco Rivera Huerta, to alleged corruption cases. The mayor, who had brought a defamation action against Flores, has denied having anything to do with his murder.

“The circumstances surrounding Flores’ murder have much in common with those surrounding the murder of fellow journalist Julio Castillo Narváez on 3 May, World Press Freedom Day.” Reporters Without Borders said. “Both were in the north. Both had covered sensitive stories. Both had received the same kinds of threats. And a political motive was suspected in both cases.

“Given the lack of progress in the Castillo murder – the arrests of two possible suspects but no other results – we fear that the investigation into the Flores murder could be just as slow. Experience has unfortunately shown a very high level of impunity for murders of journalists when politicians, judges or police officers are suspected of being in any way involved.

“We offer our condolences to Flores’ family and colleagues, and we reiterate our appeal to the government and the highest judicial authorties to lose no time in demonstrating a strong determination to combat impunity and defend the right to report the news.”

Two signals of such a determination would be the decriminalization of media offences and the immediate release of Paul Garay Ramírez, a programme producer for Visión 47 TV and a correspondent for Radio La Exitosa, who was sentenced to three years in prison by a court in the east-central region of Ucayali on 19 April for allegedly defaming a prosecutor.

Garay’s sentenced has since been halved but Reporters Without Borders supports the Peruvian journalists’ groups that say he should be freed at once.