During this period, freedom of press was marked by new attempts to implement mandatory membership in the press association, as well as a controversial ruling on the murder of a journalist. On April 19, the judge of the Eighth District Criminal Court, Rafaela Urroz, sentenced William Hurtado García to 21 years in prison for the murder of the radio journalist Carlos Guadamuz, and the attempted murder of his son, Selim Guadamuz. Both the Hurtado and Guadamuz families disagreed with the decision and appealed the sentence. The judge justified the lighter sentence for Hurtado, stating that the maximum sentence of 30 years is reserved for the crime of "depraved heart murder." The Prosecutor insisted that the case would not be closed, but as of this report the mastermind or masterminds remain unknown. On May 13, Judge Rafaela Urroz issued a not guilty verdict for Yadira Margarita Membreño and Luis Alfredo García, charged as accessories and for facilitation in the murder of Guadamuz. The Guadamuz family raised objections concerning the competency of Judge Urroz, alleging that her husband, attorney Ramón Rojas, had been the defense attorney for Daniel Ortega in the case involving charges brought by his step-daughter, Zoilamérica Narváez, for alleged sexual abuse when she was a child. Luis Alfredo García, owner of the pistol used to kill Guadamuz, alleged that he had misplaced the weapon, only accepting that he had acted in error twice: firstly, for failing to legally register the pistol when he purchased it; and secondly, for not having reported its loss. He also denied having met and conversed with the killer in a bar, as alleged by a witness. The appeal on constitutional grounds lodged with the Supreme Court against Law No. 372, Law Establishing Nicaraguan Journalists Association, remains pending. Notwithstanding, the two press associations reached an agreement in November to convene a founding congress for the association, as stipulated by Article 40 of the aforementioned statute. Should the Journalists Association be founded without a court ruling on the appeal on constitutional grounds, only those journalists already in possession of press cards issued by the quasi-governmental entity would be able to work as journalists. The Association will establish regulations to determine who will occupy leadership posts in private or state media companies. Persons violating these provisions will be arrested under archaic nineteenth-century Police regulations, specifically resurrected by Law 372 for this purpose. The establishment of this Association is a violation of the Constitution of Nicaragua, international human rights conventions, relevant case law of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IHRC), and the Declaration of Chapultepec. During the last weeks, a legislative initiative in parliament has been debated by the majority parties, the Liberal and Sandinistas, to establish a General Superintendent for Public Services to unify the regulatory bodies overseeing electric, telecommunications and potable water utilities. The Superintendent and Deputy Superintendent would be named by the National Assembly. The government is interpreting this initiative as an attempt by the Liberal and Sandinista parties to weaken the powers of the executive branch and submit the utilities to party control. The government itself views this as a grave threat to freedom of speech. This is in view of the fact that this Superintendents' office would be in charge of licensing and renewals for radio and TV frequencies, which are currently controlled by the state entity, Telcor (Telecommunications and Postal Services), the directors of which are named by the President of Nicaruagua. The Liberal and Sandinista deputies deny that this is their intention and allege that they seek to unify and streamline the public utilities oversight system. On August 13, the daily, La Prensa, published an article announcing that the Association of Judges of Nicaragua (AJUMANIC) would present a report specifying serious accusations levied against the Alternate Judge for the Fifth Criminal District Court, Carlos Mario Peña, and would request a review the Disciplinary Commission of the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court in an en banc session. On August 21, AJUMANIC publically confirmed the decision reported eight days before by La Prensa. That same day Judge Peña verbally threatened the author of the story, journalist Mirna Velásquez. This brought to light the fact that she had been illegally investigated. This was denounced to the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) and the National Police. On August 27, the Managua Court of Appeals, allowed an appeal by the journalist and her family. On September 7, the Supreme Court (CSJ) issued a communiqué reporting that 14 of the 16 justices decided to cancel the appointment of attorney, Carlos Mario Peña, as Alternate Judge for the Fifth Criminal District Court of Managua. Peña had been dismissed from his position as a public defender in the Department of Granada. The criminal complaint lodged by the journalist, Velásquez, remains in the hands of the Court. On May 4, four police officers were cruelly gunned down in their own police station in Bluefields, on Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast. As a result of the journalistic inquiries into this crime, unsolved to this day, the correspondent for La Prensa in that city, Sergio León, was threatened by the Assistant Commissioner of the National Police, Kent Hooker, when they ran into each other in a public establishment in Managua. The threat was reported to the General Police Inspector, Commissioner Aminta Granero. The threats are due to the fact that Sergio León's reporting was based on sources with the police who wished to remain anonymous. The reporting indicated that the murder of the four officers was linked to a drug trafficking scandal involving a number of regional police commanders, acquitted amidst murky circumstances. Subsequently, on August 16, persons unknown entered Sergio León's home and attempted to break into his bedroom. The intruders fled when Sergio León fired the weapon he keeps for self-defense into the air. That same day, police intelligence officers pointed to the reporter while on the street in a manner he considered threatening. This was reported to the Ministry of Government Affairs but nothing further was heard.