04 June 2008

IAPA urges investigation into murder in Venezuela


Miami (June 4, 2008)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its outrage at the murder of a Venezuelan newspaper executive and called on authorities to carry out a prompt investigation to identify those responsible, determine their motives for the killing and bring them to justice.


Pierre Fould Gerges, vice president of the financial journal Reporte Diario de la Economía, was murdered on of Monday afternoon (June 2) in Caracas. Gerges, 48, was shot 17 times in the neck and chest by an assailant on a motorcycle with another unidentified rider as he was traveling in a car belonging to his brother, Tannous Gerges, the newspaper‘s president.


The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, urged Venezuelan authorities “to proceed with a broad investigation in order to identify all those who carried out the killing, all those who masterminded it and discover their motives.”


Although the motives were not immediately known police did not rule out the possibility that the victim had been taken for his brother, who looked very much like him.  Tannous Gerges and other executives of the newspaper have received 58 e-mailed and telephoned threats since last June.


According to Giselle Suárez, the newspaper’s legal counsel, the threats were believed to have resulted from reports of corruption it published. Police investigators said the murder had all the signs of having been carried out by hitmen.