12 May 2008

IAPA outraged at murder of newsman in Guatemala


IAPA outraged at murder of newsman in Guatemala


Miami (May 12, 2008).—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today condemned the weekend murder of journalist Jorge Mérida Pérez in Guatemala and called on the authorities to hold a prompt investigation, identify those responsible and bring them swiftly to justice.


Mérida Pérez, 40, a correspondent of the Guatemala City newspaper Prensa Libre in Coatepeque, Quetzaltenango province, some 120 miles from the capital, was killed at his home on Saturday afternoon.


The journalist, accustomed to leaving his front door open, was writing an article on his computer when a man on a motorcycle drove up, entered the house and shot him four times in the face. His 14-year-old son, the only family member living with him, was in an adjoining room and was uninjured.


Other family members said Mérida Pérez had told them he was receiving threats, but gave no details.


As he expressed sympathy to the family and condemned the crime Gonzalo Marroquín, chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of Prensa Libre, issued a public call for the case to be investigated without delay and offered his newspaper’s assistance in the inquiries.


Mérida Pérez also worked for 18 years with the local Fire Department and five years with the Red Cross. He covered embezzlement trials and drug raids for the newspaper, as well as other topics.


Marroquín recalled that in his most recent report on the state of freedom of the press in Guatemala, presented to the IAPA’s Midyear Meeting in March, he expressed concern at the vulnerability of journalists working in the interior of the country and at the increased number of threats against them.