The murder of Antonio de la Torre Echeandía of Radio Órbita of Yungay on February 14 was a blow to press freedom in Peru. Police captured two suspects shortly after the crime, Prof. Antonio Torre Camones and Hipólito Casiano Vega, the chauffeur of Mayor Amaro León León. But the Andean city was shaken when a temporary judge removed the mayor from the investigation, even as a witness. Now it is up to the chief criminal judge in Yungay to charge the suspected mastermind and not leave the crime unpunished. The journalist was stabbed to death by two people who intercepted him as he came home from a social event. Local journalists said the murder is directly related to De la Torres work on the news show of Radio Órbita. A few days before his death he had begun a polemical and critical segment called With Truth and Justice that took and followed up on complaints about the management of public agencies. On the other hand, while there is a broad and varied offering of news in Peru, the political debate focuses on how the media should behave during a crisis. The debate has begun to produce disturbing incidents, such as threats of reprisals through the courts against journalists and the media by high officials of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. For example, in February, the 8th Special Court of Lambayeque ordered journalist Rosa Chambergo to refrain from publishing articles about the mayor, because of a defamation lawsuit, which is de facto prior restraint. Another example is the lawsuit brought in Lima by legislator Jorge Mufarech charging Pedro Salinas, a columnist for the daily Correo, with defamation and insulting his good name. The serious aspect of the case is that the court ordered an investigation and agreed to consider a demand for $1 million and the preventive attachment of Salinass assets. The court based the decision on the crime of opinion, which does not exist in Peru, and, in addition, is unconstitutional. Another surprising development is the severity with which a special criminal judge in Lima issued an order in March to begin investigation of journalist Humberto Ortiz for alleged crimes of complicity and conspiracy to commit crimes against the state. Because of this, an order has been issued to attach his assets and bank accounts and he has been forbidden from leaving the country. In addition to these legal actions, is the prosecutors offices questionable reopening of the trial against Baruch Ivcher and other executives of Channel 2, which was declared null and void by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights six years ago. It is also worrisome that the lawsuit against El Comercio by legislator Jorge Mufarech is going to a fourth judge, because the third challenge against the judge currently hearing the case was successful. On December 5 a bill was introduced in the legislature that would provide for obligatory licensing of journalists. Although the bill has not been put on the legislative calendar, it has been criticized as restrictive by the Peruvian Press Council. In January, a special anti-corruption court began a public trial of Vladimiro Montesinos and the owners and editors of the chicha press, who received money from the government of ex-president Alberto Fujimori to support his reelection and participate in a disinformation and defamation campaign against journalists and opponents of the regime. Twenty-nine people have been charged, including former members of the armed forces, owners of media outlets, journalists and Montesinos, a former presidential adviser. In February, these hearings became part of the scandal when it was confirmed that Montesinos continued to hold power over some media outlets. This was revealed when a cameraman caught the former presidential adviser sending codefendant Moisés Wolfenson, a member of the family that owns the daily La Razón, a message telling him to publish a story about supposed habits of President Toledo. It appeared on the front page the next day. In a positive development, journalist Juan Jara Mata Berrospi was freed after 11 years in detention. In January the National Court for Terrorism Cases found that he was not guilty of justifying terrorism. Also, Congress sent back to committee the controversial report on the Radio and Television Law. Among other things it would have allowed for the cancellation of a broadcast stations license if it could be proven that its independence had been compromised or lost. The following important events should be noted: On October 19, the provincial prosecutor of Huanta reopened the case of the murder of Hugo Bustíos Saavedra, correspondent in Ayacucho of the magazine Caretas. He was shot to death on November 24, 1988 by army officers. On January 8, anti-corruption judge Carolina Lizárraga extended for 30 days the trial for the death of Pedro Yauri, correspondent in Ayacucho of the daily La República, who was kidnapped in June of 1992 and later killed by members of the paramilitary group Colina. On January 10, former army technician first class Pedro Manuel Santillán Galdós, a member of Colina, was arrested and charged with the kidnapping and murder of the journalist. After 11 years in a high-security prison, journalist Juan de la Jara Mata Berrospi was released after the National Terrorism Court found him not guilty of collaboration with terrorism. When he was detained, Berrospi was carrying a sketch, sent to him anonymously, of the place where the remains of a professor and nine students of La Cantuta University were found. Mata Berrospi had worked until July 1993 as a producer at Radiofusora Comas, as a reporter for the magazine Huánuco Voz Departamental and publisher of Diario, considered an organ of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). On December 11, the Transportation and Communications Committee of Congress unanimously reported out the text of the proposed Radio and Television Law. The chairman of the committee, Mario Ochoa, said the report included 21 proposals from legislators of various blocs. On January 27, amid strong criticism, the report was returned to the committee for changes. At the beginning of October, Congressman Luis Solari de la Fuente, made a complaint to the 27th Provincial Prosecutors Office in Lima of an alleged crime against freedom. He was referring to the broadcast of a report of alleged irregularities in the legislature on the news programs La Hora N, on Canal N and the news show 90 Segundos on Frecuencia Latina. On October 17, Walter Altamirano Vásquez of Radio Éxitos, Juan Vásquez Malca of Canal 13 and José Zapara Chumán of Televisión Nacional del Perú, were attacked by workers of the city of Jaén, in Cajamarca province, during a news conference called by Mayor Jaime Vílchez Oblitas. On November 22, Juan Carlos Tafu, editor of the daily Correo, was notified that he had been barred from leaving the country by a criminal court in Lima under temporary judge María Esther Falconí Gálvez. He was preparing to go to the United States on business. On November 25, the same judge gave him temporary permission to travel for five days, saying that if he did not return to the country within that time she would order his arrest. Falconi issued the order because of a defamation lawsuit against the journalist by the former Cono Norte judge, Nancy Sánchez Hidalgo. On December 3, a presidential security agent attacked José Abanto, a photographer of the daily La República, preventing him from approaching the president during a public ceremony. On December 10, U.S. journalist Sharon Stevenson, correspondent in Peru for the magazine Newsweek, the television chain CNN and Voice of America was seriously injured in an attack. An emergency unit of the National Police found her lying unconscious on the ground in Los Olivos district. Stevenson, who has lived in Peru since 1990, was investigating alleged use of biological materials in the fight against illegal cultivation of the coca leaf. According to the Foreign Press Association of Peru (APEP), Stevenson was going to meet a source who was to give her material to support her investigation. On January 8, the police captured the alleged Colombian informer Tomás Pinedo Ruiz in Chiclayo. He participated in the attack on Stevenson to steal the $7,000 she was planning to use to pay for information about her investigation. On February 19, Rommel Pinedo, who kidnapped, beat and robbed the journalist of $7,000, was detained in the Lima neighborhood of La Victoria. On December 11, the 30th Provincial Criminal Prosecutors Office of Lima opened a new proceeding with limited appearance and an injunction against four executives of Frecuencia Latina, including chairman Baruch Ivcher. The case was dismissed six years ago under an international ruling of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Peruvian Press Council considers the procedure unconstitutional. Ivcher is accused of violating public trust and falsifying stock records of Frecuencia Latina, which contain a power of attorney for one of his daughters. On December 12, Rosa María Palacios of Radio Programas del Perú and Canal 6 reported that her telephone had been tapped after a security company she hired found a microphone on a telephone pole next to her house. On December 14, Edwin Azaña Alejos, a reporter for the program El Poder de la Información, broadcast on Canal 31 of Chimbote in Ancash province, was violently attacked by three members of the Peruvian Aprista Party as he covered a party election. On December 30, security guards of Jesús Alvarado, then labor minister and member of the government party Perú Posible, attacked journalists at the end of a news conference at the ministry. The attack occurred after the minister read a statement responding to press accusations of nepotism. On December 31, Joel Valencia Palomino, editor of the magazine El Eco Picotino and the weekly El Sol de Huallaga in Picota, San Martín, was attacked by a city councilman, Hugo Laurencio Rengifo Tello. On January 20, Hugo Sibina Hurtado, chief justice of the Supreme Court, restricted journalists access to the court building for reasons of security and order. On January 26, Pedro Salinas, a columnist for the daily Correo and anchor of the radio program Suma de Opiniones broadcast on the station La Inolvidable, said he was the victim of judicial persecution instigated by Congressman Jorge Mufarech, who filed a $1 million defamation lawsuit against him because of two opinion articles published in December 2002 and March 2003 in Correo. On January 27, the owner of the radio station Miraflores, Ricardo Palma Michelsen, said he constantly receives anonymous phone calls pressing him to cancel the program La Hora del Chino, broadcast from Japan by ex-president Fujimori, as well as programs by journalists Nicolás Lúcar and Fernando Viaña, who oppose the Toledo government. The businessman said the callers offer in exchange to forgive a tax debt of 95 million soles. On January 30, Guillermo Navas Chujunatalli, editor of the magazine Panorama Regional of Tarapoto, was detained by police in San Martín region. According to the authorities, Navas did not respond to a court summons in a suit filed by the former dean of the notaries organization in San Martín, Justo Pérez Ruiz, for alleged insult to his good name. On February 1, the Tax Committee of Congress heard testimony from Catherine Lanseros of the daily Correo, Lenka Zajec of the daily La República and Zarella Sierra of the daily Perú 21, who investigated the Almeyda-Montesinos case. The journalists confirmed that they had information that Fernando Olivera, the former justice minister and now ambassador to Spain, not only knew about the dealings of César Almeyda with the late general Oscar Villanueva, but also received documents held by Villanueva. On February 4, Abigail Díaz Moncada of Diario de Chimbote and Edwin Azaña Alejos, a cameraman for the program El Poder de la Información of Canal 31, were attacked verbally and physically by members of the Civil Construction Workers Union. On February 23, the ruling-party delegation in Congress announced, through Jorge Mufarech, that it would hire lawyers to complain to the media that they are making unfounded charges about government officials. On February 27, anti-corruption prosecutor Jorge Luis Cortés pressed criminal charges against journalist Humberto Ortiz Pajuelo for being involved in negotiations for the sale of a tape recording of a conversation between former presidential adviser César Almeyda and the late Gen. Oscar Villanueva. Ortiz, who is currently in the United States, is accused of aggravated complicity and conspiracy against the state. On March 2, Carolina Lizárraga, a special criminal judge in Lima, issued an injunction against journalist Humberto Ortiz for alleged conspiracy and complicity against the state. The criminal complaint said, It can be inferred that he participated in forming a clearly defined criminal group, designed to use information, obtained by means to be established, for illegal purposes offering to sell an audio tape to media owners . As a result, a preventive attachment of his assets and bank accounts was ordered and he was banned from leaving the country. On February 27, the Peruvian Press Council issued a communiqué expressing its concern about an order issued by Oscar Burga Zamora, a judge in Lambayeque. He ordered Rosa Cambergo, editor of the weekly Expresión in Chiclayo, not to publish articles about the citys mayor, Arturo Chirinos. The judge issued his order before the case even went to the trial, as the preliminary investigation has just begun. The decision is based on a defamation lawsuit the mayor filed against the journalist. The press council issued its protest and said court orders affecting press freedom constitute de facto prior restraint. On February 26, Luzmila Templo Condeso, governor of Huánuco region, sued the editor of the daily El Comerico, Alejandro Miró Quesada Cisneros, for defamation in a criminal court in Huánuco, for publishing news about her ties with some cocaine traffickers. In March, Congressman Jorge Mufarech challenged Judge Silvia Maguiño Melgarejo, who is presiding over his defamation lawsuit against El Comercio, for publishing an investigative report about alleged irregularities in the import of a Jaguar that he owned. As a result of the challenge, which the newspapers defense lawyers have called an intimidating maneuver, Judge Maguiño, who was about to make a decision, asked to be removed from the case. Three judges have now heard the case, which was brought in September of 2002. If the congressmans challenge is accepted, a fourth judge would have to be appointed. On February 28, the clerk of the anti-corruption court that is hearing the drug trafficking trial of Vladimiro Montesinos has refused to give Gustavo Mohme Llona, editor of La República, a copy of his testimony, saying it is confidential. The following are notable trials of media outlets accused of corruption during the Fujimori government. On October 8, prosecutor Pablo Sánchez Velarde requested that the period of detention for Héctor Faisal be doubled to 36 months. Faisal, who is from Argentina, is on trial for using government money to defame journalists and politicians opposed to the government of former president Fujimori using an Internet page, APRODEV. On October 9, Attorney General Nelly Calderón Navarro filed a criminal charge against Fujimori in the Supreme Court for authorizing the improper use of state resources to buy Cable Canal de Noticias (CCN) and to pay the former editor of the daily Expreso, Eduardo Calmell, more than $1 million to support his reelection campaign. On October 17, the national prosecutors office declared that the investigation of Víctor Arbulú, a criminal judge in Callao, is justified. In July of 2002 Arbulú accepted a habeas corpus petition and ordered the release of the former editor of Expreso, Eduardo Calmell del Solar, who was linked to Fujimoris corrupt circle. On November 17, Attorney General Nelly Calderón Navarro charged that Fujimori had ordered agents of the secret police (SIN) to torture journalist Fabián Salazar Olivares to force him to reveal who had given him five video and audio tapes showing corrupt activities involving various officials and media owners during the Fujimori government. On January 27, the anti-corruption court approved a plea bargain agreement with Mendel and Samuel Winter Zuzunaga. The two brothers are shareholders of Frecuencia Latina and were on trial for complicity in embezzlement and criminal conspiracy for having received money from Vladimiro Montesinos for supporting the Fujimori government. On January 23 and 28, the anti-corruption court ordered that the Winter Zuzunagas, former executives of Frecuencia Latina, be released after 36 months in custody and held under house arrest. The judges justified their decision because the Winter Zuznaga brothers had accepted a plea bargain and the danger of flight had decreased considerably. On January 22, the anti-corruption court began the public trial of Vladimiro Montesinos and the owners and editors of the chicha, or yellow newspapers who received money from the government during the Fujimori administration to support the illegal reelection of the president and participate in a campaign of disinformation and defamation against journalists and opponents of the regime. There are 29 defendants, including Vladimiro Montesinos; armed forces officers Humberto Rozas, Antonio Ibárcena, José Villanueva, Elesván Bello; publicists Augusto Bressani, Giancarlo Bressani, Jorge Bressani, Oscar Doufur, Daniel Borobio, Ricardo Winitzky; owners, editors and journalists Jorge Rivera, Alejandro Estenos, José and Fernando Oliveri, Pablo Documet, José Olaya, Moisés Wolfenson, Alex Wolfenson, Marcelo Gullo, Edgar Camargo, José Reyes, Boris Romero, Mario Ruiz Agüero, Wilmer Ramos Viera, Pedro Chévez, Mariam Revenna and Fiorella Olaya. On February 18, a criminal court in Lima sentenced José Olaya, former editor of the daily El Tío, to three years in prison for aggravated defamation against the founding editor of La República, Gustavo Mohme Llona, and journalists Mirko Lauer, Edmundo Cruz and Ángel Páez. On February 25, Vladimiro Montesinos was sentenced to three years in prison for defamation of the former editor of La República, Gustavo Mohme Llona, and journalists Edmundo Cruz, Ángel Páez and Mirko Lauer in publications on the front page of El Tío. The sentence by Judge Edwin Terrones Dávila was the first against Montesinos for actions against the press. On February 27, publicist Augusto Bressani received a three-year suspended sentence for his participation in a campaign of defamation against the editor and three journalists of La República. A criminal judge in Lima ordered compensation of 40,000 soles. On February 5, an immigration court in Washington, D.C., rejected the request for political asylum of Eduardo Calmell del Solar, former editor of Expreso, who alleged that he was being persecuted for political reasons. Finally, in the case of Panamericana Televisión, 50 people armed with sticks, hammers and other objects attacked the television station in Lima on November 16. The station is under the control of Ernesto Schutz Freundt, former stockholder of Canal 5. On November 18, prosecutor Jacqueline del Pozo Castro charged 14 people with the vandalism. Eduardo Iriarte, at the time transportation and communications minister, said his ministry only gets involved or sanctions a station when there are technical difficulties. He said the case of Panamericana Telvisión should be solved in the courts. On February 23, the 2nd Civil Court of Cono Norte in Lima under Judge Ana Lucía Campos vacated an interim relief order that had named businessman Genaro Delgado Parker as temporary receiver of Panamericana Televisión. Court Order 219 ruled that the administration of the station be returned to the group of Ernesto Schutz Freundt. That same day, Genaro Delgado Parkers defense lawyers appealed that ruling, and challenged Judge Campos charging her with abuse of authority, denial of justice and malfeasance of office. On February 24, José Ortiz Rivera, minister of transportation and communications, said his ministry would not intervene in the case, because it should be handled in the courts. On February 26, Pablo Livia, head of the 36th criminal provincial prosecutors office in Lima, charged Ernesto Schutz Freundt, Pedro Arbulú and Federico Anchorena, executives of the Schutz management team of Panamericana Televisión, with having illegally transferred shares of Canal 5 to the Telespectra, Helvética and Antártica companies. The executives also are accused of misappropriation of assets by fraud. In response, the Schutz administration rejected the charge and warned against judicial maneuvers to delay the recovery of the station. On March 1, a criminal court in Lima began the trial of Ernesto Schutz Freundt, Pedro Arbulú and Federico Anchorena for alleged illegal transfer of shares of Panamericana Televisión to the company Telespectra.