New York, January 3, 2005—Even in a year of combat casualties brought on by war, murder remained the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide in 2004, an analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found.
Thirty-six of the 56 journalists who died in the line of duty in 2004 were murdered, continuing a long-term trend documented by CPJ. The organization’s annual year-end analysis reinforced another trend—the killers usually go unpunished. In all but nine cases in 2004, CPJ found, the murders were carried out with impunity.
The toll traverses the globe—from the Philippines, where eight journalists were slain in a shocking series of attacks; to Mexico, where drug-fueled violence claimed the lives of two journalists; to the Gambia, where editor and press freedom advocate Deyda Hydara was gunned down just days after denouncing a repressive new press law.
Even in Iraq, where crossfire was the leading cause of death among journalists, at least nine of the 23 journalists killed were deliberately targeted.
“The sheer number of journalists killed in 2004 is cause for deep concern,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “But the fact that so many were murdered with impunity is shameful and debilitating. Governments have an obligation to pursue and prosecute those responsible. By failing to do so, they let criminals set the limits on the news that citizens see and read.”
Most of the journalists killed around the world each year are local reporters, photographers, editors, and camera operators covering events in their own countries, according to CPJ research. In 2004, nine of the 56 journalists killed were foreign correspondents, and only one was American. Forbes Russia editor Paul Klebnikov, a U.S. citizen, was gunned down in Moscow in July, making him the 11th journalist killed in a contract-style murder since President Vladimir Putin came to power just five years ago.
Some high-risk spots shifted in 2004. While eight journalists were killed in Latin America—including two on the U.S./Mexico border and two in Nicaragua—no journalist was killed for his or her work in Colombia for the first time in at least a decade. Colombian journalists told CPJ that dozens of murders over two decades have seeded fear among provincial reporters, causing them to avoid sensitive coverage of the ongoing civil war.
As CPJ reported in December, the 2004 death toll is the highest in a decade. The deadliest year for journalists since CPJ began compiling detailed statistics was 1994, when 66 journalists were killed, mostly in Algeria, Rwanda, and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Seventeen media workers were also killed in 2004, 16 of them in Iraq. Such workers play supporting roles as drivers, interpreters, fixers and guards. Two journalists also went missing, including French and Canadian journalist Guy-André Kieffer who disappeared in Ivory Coast in April.
CPJ considers a journalist to be killed on duty if the person died as a result of a hostile action, including retaliation for his or her work, in crossfire while covering a conflict, or while reporting in dangerous circumstances such as a violent street demonstration. It does not include journalists killed in accidents, or those who died of health ailments.
CPJ continues to investigate the cases of 17 other journalists killed in 2004 to determine whether their deaths are related to their journalistic work. CPJ staff has compiled detailed information on journalists killed around the world since 1992. Statistical information is available on CPJ’s Web site.
Manik Saha, New Age, January 15, 2004, Khulna
Saha, a veteran journalist and press freedom activist, was targeted and killed in a bomb attack in the southwestern city of Khulna.
Saha, 45, a correspondent with the daily New Age and a contributor to the BBC’s Bengali-language service, was taking a rickshaw home from the Khulna Press Club when unidentified assailants stopped his vehicle and threw a bomb at him, according to local journalists. The assailants fled the scene.
Police suspect that members of the region’s outlawed Maoist guerrilla groups may be responsible for the attack. On the day of Saha’s murder, an underground leftist group, Janajuddha (People’s War), a faction of the Purbo Banglar Communist Party, claimed responsibility for the killing in letters faxed to local news organizations.
A former reporter with the daily Sangbad, Saha had 20 years of journalism experience and was known for his bold reporting on the Khulna region’s criminal gangs, drug traffickers, and Maoist insurgents, said local journalists. According to these sources, in recent days, Saha felt that he was increasingly at risk of reprisal for his reporting. He told colleagues that he had received several death threats that he suspected may have come from criminal gangs.
Saha, who was active in Bangladesh’s press freedom community, was the former president of the Khulna Press Club and worked closely with the Bangladesh Center for Development, Journalism, and Communication, a local press freedom group.
Police charged 13 alleged Maoists insurgents with Saha’s murder in June, although only a fraction were in custody. Local journalists say that those responsible for organizing the attack had not been arrested.
Two suspects, leaders of the Janajuddha faction, died in separate shootouts with police in late August. Authorities also accused the two dead suspects, Altaf Hossain and Imam Sarder, in the murder of Humayun Kabir, an editor from Khulna who died in a violent attack in June, according to local news reports.
Humayun Kabir, Janmabhumi, June 27, 2004, Khulna
Kabir, editor of the Bangla-language daily Janmabhumi, was killed in a bomb attack in the southwestern city of Khulna. An unidentified assailant threw two bombs at Kabir outside his home while he was exiting his car with his family, according to local news reports.
Witnesses told the English-language Daily Star that the assailant, posing as a peanut seller, approached Kabir and tossed at least two homemade bombs at him, fatally injuring him in the abdomen and the legs. Kabir was taken to Khulna Medical College Hospital and died soon after. Kabir’s son Asif also suffered minor injuries on his legs and was treated at a local clinic.
An underground leftist group known as Janajuddha (People’s War), a faction of the Purbo Banglar Communist Party, claimed responsibility for the murder in phone calls to several local newspapers and journalists the day of the murder, according to local journalists.
Kabir, 58, was a veteran journalist and the president of the Khulna Press Club. He published bold articles criticizing the organized crime that plagues Bangladesh’s troubled southwestern region. After his friend and fellow journalist Manik Saha was murdered in a similar attack earlier in 2004, Kabir criticized the criminal elements implicated in Saha’s killing. Janajuddha also claimed responsibility for Saha’s murder. Kabir had recently received death threats, according to local news reports.
Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and other high-ranking government officials condemned Kabir’s murder and pledged to find and punish those responsible. Local journalist groups spoke out against the killing and called for a week of mourning.
Local police said they detained nine suspects in connection with Kabir’s murder, the BBC reported.
Two other suspects in the case, leaders of the Janajuddha faction, died in separate shootouts with police in late August. Authorities accuse the deceased suspects—Altaf Hossain and Imam Sarder—of involvement in Kabir’s murder and say they were also responsible for Manik Saha’s killing, a veteran reporter from Khulna who also died in a violent attack in January, according to local news reports.
Kamal Hossain, Ajker Kagoj, August 22, 2004, Manikcchari
Hossain, the local correspondent for the Bangla-language daily Ajker Kagoj, was abducted and brutally murdered by unknown assailants in the early morning in Manikcchari, eastern Chittagong District, according to local news reports. The newswire service the United News of Bangladesh (UNB) reported that police discovered Hossain’s decapitated body nearby hours later.
According to Bangladeshi news reports, armed men broke into Hossain’s house in the middle of the night and threatened to kill Hossain’s 2-year-old son unless he surrendered to them. The men took Hossain away at gunpoint.
Hossain, 32, was the general secretary of the Manikcchari Press Club and had recently written several articles about criminal activity, according to local journalists. The Chittagong District is notorious for organized crime, including the illegal trade of lumber and arms, sources told CPJ. Hossain was also involved with the local youth wing of the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the Jatiyatabadi Chhatra Dal, and had recently had a dispute with a neighbor about land, Bangladeshi news outlets reported.
But local journalists told CPJ they are convinced that Hossain’s murder was related to his investigative reporting about organized crime. His wife says he had received death threats before his murder, according to local news reports. An article in Ajker Kagoj at the time of his death also claimed that Hossain was likely killed because of his investigative work. Bangladeshi press groups condemned the killing and called for justice.
José Carlos Araújo, Rádio Timbaúba FM, April 24, 2004, Timbaúba
Radio host Araújo was killed in the town of Timbaúba, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the state capital of Recife in the northeastern state of Pernambuco. Two unidentified gunmen ambushed and shot Araújo around 7:30 p.m. outside his home in Timbaúba, according to local news reports. None of the journalist’s belongings were stolen.
The 37-year old Araújo hosted the call-in talk show “José Carlos Entrevista” (José Carlos Interviewing) at Rádio Timbaúba FM. Citing police sources, the Recife-based daily Diário de Pernambuco said that Araújo had made several enemies in Timbaúba after denouncing the existence of death squads run by criminal gangs and the involvement of well-known local figures in murders in the region.
According to the Recife daily Folha de Pernambuco, on April 28, police captured Elton Jonas Gonçalves de Oliveira, one of the suspected assassins, who confessed to killing Araújo because the journalist had accused him on the air of being a criminal. Folha de Pernambuco quoted Timbaúba’s police chief as saying that Gonçalves claimed that he did not commit all the crimes the journalist accused him of and resented Araújo for giving him a bad reputation.
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: 1
Juan Emilio Andújar Matos, Radio Azua and Listín Diario, September 14, 2004 Azua
Andújar was ambushed and killed by gunmen moments after a radio broadcast in which he reported on a bloody crime wave that pitted gang members against police in the southern town of Azua, according to local news reports.
Andújar was host of Radio Azua’s weekly show “Encuentro Mil 60” (Encounter 1060) and a correspondent with the Santo Domingobased daily Listín Diario. Jorge Luis Sención, a radio reporter who witnessed the attack, was later shot in a second ambush and lost his right forearm to amputation.
The attack came amid an escalating crime wave in Azua, 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of the capital, Santo Domingo. Several Dominican journalists who have reported on the crime surge have been threatened with death and are under police protection, according to press reports.
Andújar left the station at around 9:40 a.m. with colleague Juan Sánchez, a correspondent with the Santo Domingobased dailies El Nacional and Hoy. During the show, the reporters discussed the killing that morning of four reputed gang members in a gun battle with police, according to press reports. Andújar and Sánchez, as well as other journalists from Azua, had previously received death threats for their comments about the crime wave.
As the reporters were about to drive their motorcycles away, two motorcyclists shot at them, hitting Andújar in the head as Sánchez took refuge in a nearby fire station, the Dominican press reported. Andújar died an hour-and-a-half later in a local hospital.
Sención, a reporter with Enriquillo Radio in the town of Tamayo, saw the ambush and aided Andújar in the immediate aftermath, according to a local press account. Later that morning, while with his pregnant wife, Sención was assaulted by the same gunmen.
Dominican authorities in Santo Domingo dispatched what was described as an elite police unit and two helicopters to patrol the town. Police killed a man believed to be one of the two assailants was in a gun battle on September 15.
Andújar, a respected journalist with 20 years’ experience, was also a professor at the Technology University of Azua and president of an environmental organization.
THE GAMBIA: 1
Deyda Hydara, The Point, December 17, 2004, Banjul
Hydara, managing editor and co-owner of the independent newspaper The Point, as well as a correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reporters without Borders (RSF), was shot three times in the head by unidentified assailants while he drove home from his office in the capital, Banjul, at around midnight. Two other staff members of The Point, Ida Jagne-Joof and Nyang Jobe, were in the car with Hydara and were wounded in the attack.
The shooting occurred two days after the Gambian National Assembly passed two contentious pieces of media legislation that Hydara, along with other local independent journalists, had strongly opposed. One set lengthy jail terms for reporters convicted of defamation or sedition.
Hydara also wrote two columns for The Point that frequently criticized the government, according to local journalists.
Ricardo Ortega, Antena 3, March 7, 2004, Port-au-Prince
Ortega, 37, correspondent for the Spanish television station Antena 3, was shot twice in the chest when gunmen opened fire on demonstrators in Haiti’s capital, Port-au-Prince. The demonstrators were calling for the prosecution of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ortega was taken to Canapé Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince, where he died an hour later.
According to international press reports, the crowd was dispersing when shots were fired from different directions on the central Champs de Mars plaza. When gunfire erupted, a group of journalists and demonstrators took refuge in the courtyard of a nearby house. Gunmen standing on the roof or on a balcony fired into the courtyard, the Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald reported.
Witnesses said they saw Aristide supporters start the shooting, according to The Associated Press. Four Haitians were killed, and dozens were injured during the incident.
After conducting its own investigation and interviewing witnesses in Haiti, Antena 3 aired an October 27 special report that concluded the fatal bullet could have come from the U.S. military. A U.S. embassy official disputed the assertion in an interview with Antena 3. A Marine Corps spokesman did not immediately respond to inquiries from CPJ seeking comment.
Ortega began his career working for the Spanish news agency EFE in Moscow. As a correspondent for Antena 3, he covered armed conflicts in Chechnya, Sarajevo, and Afghanistan. Ortega also covered the September 11 attacks in New York City, his last posting as a correspondent. He was on a leave of absence in New York when he offered to cover the Haiti crisis for Antena 3.
Veeraboina Yadagiri, Andhra Prabha, February 21, 2004, Medak
Yadagiri, a veteran journalist and staff correspondent for the local, Telugu-language daily Andhra Prabha, was stabbed to death near his home in the town of Medak, in India’s southern Andhra Pradesh State. Local journalists told CPJ that Yadagiri, 35, was murdered in reprisal for his articles investigating the illegal sale of home-brewed liquor, known locally as toddy.
Local sources told CPJ that Yadagiri had written a series of articles detailing the dangers of consuming toddy and accusing local politicians of being involved in its trade. The national English-language newspaper The Hindu reported that prior to his death, Yadagiri had registered a police complaint after he received threats from a local contractor involved in the illegal toddy business.
According to local sources, on the night of February 21, Yadagiri was invited to a meeting with several people involved in the toddy trade. After the meeting, Yadagiri was accompanied home by at least three of the men who had been present, along with Siddaram Reddy, another local journalist and friend of Yadagiri. Lakshminarayana Goud, one of those accompanying Yadagiri, stabbed him multiple times before fleeing the scene, according to local news reports and sources.
Local police arrested four suspects and charged them with involvement in the murder. According to Amar Devulapalli, the head of the Andhra Pradesh Union of Working Journalists (APUWJ), Goud was charged, along with Sirimalle Srinivas, Venkatesh Chauhan, and Nagi Reddy (who is not related to Siddaram Reddy).
Devulapalli told CPJ that the state government of Andhra Pradesh condemned the murder and gave money and land to Yadagiri’s family as compensation for their loss. However, local police have accused Siddaram Reddy of being the true culprit in the murder and have arrested and charged him with involvement, Devulapalli said.
APUWJ pressured the federal Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the state’s prosecution of Yadagiri’s murder. The CBI began an inquiry into the handling of the case, postponing the trials of all the defendants, Devulapalli said.
Asiya Jeelani, freelance, April 20, 2004, Kashmir
Jeelani died en route to the hospital after a van carrying an elections monitoring team detonated an explosive device on a rural road in northern Kashmir.
Jeelani was a freelance journalist who contributed to local newspapers, and a human rights activist who worked with several nongovernmental organizations. Local sources said she was helping a local umbrella organization, the Coalition of Civil Society, prepare an account of its monitoring activity, and may have been reporting on the election herself.
The driver of the van was also killed in the blast. After the explosion, the coalition called off its monitoring activities, citing the danger involved.
Duraid Isa Mohammed, CNN, January 27, 2004, outside Baghdad
Mohammed, a producer working for the U.S. cable news network CNN, and his driver, Yasser Khatab, were killed in an ambush on the outskirts of the capital, Baghdad, CNN reported.
The network said that Mohammed, who also worked as a translator, and Khatab died of multiple gunshot wounds after unidentified assailants fired on the two-car convoy the men were traveling in that afternoon. Cameraman Scott McWhinnie, who was traveling in the second vehicle, was grazed in the head by a bullet, CNN said, but the remaining members of the convoy—two CNN journalists, a security adviser, and the second driver—were unharmed. McWhinnie was treated at a nearby military base.
According to CNN, the vehicles were headed north toward Baghdad when a rust-colored Opel approached from behind. A single gunman with an AK-47, positioned through the sunroof, opened fire on one of the vehicles. CNN’s vice president for international public relations, Nigel Pritchard, told CPJ that both CNN cars were unmarked, and that the attackers may not have been aware they were journalists.
Safir Nader, Qulan TV, February 1, 2004, Arbil
Haymin Mohamed Salih, Qulan TV, February 1, 2004, Arbil
Ayoub Mohamed, Kurdistan TV, February 1, 2004, Arbil
Gharib Mohamed Salih, Kurdistan TV, February 1, 2004, Arbil
Semko Karim Mohyideen, freelance, February 1, 2004, Arbil
Abdel Sattar Abdel Karim, Al Ta’akhy, February 1, 2004, Arbil
These six journalists were killed when the offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) were attacked in twin suicide bombings as the two Kurdish groups hosted guests to commemorate the first day of the Muslim holiday Eid.
More than 100 people, including several senior leaders in both parties, were killed in the 10:45 a.m. attack. Kurdish groups blamed the bombings on Islamist extremist groups based in northern Iraq who oppose the secular Kurdish political groups.
Nader and Haymin Mohamed Salih were cameramen covering the festivities for Qulan TV, which is run by KDP. Mohamed and Gharib Mohamed Salih were freelance cameramen covering the event for Kurdistan TV, which is also run by the KDP. Mohyideen was a freelance cameraman hired by the KDP to film the occasion. Abdel Karim was a freelance photographer working for the Arabic-language daily Al-Ta’akhy.
Nadia Nasrat, Iraq Media Network/Diyala TV, March 18, 2004, Baqouba
Nasrat, a news anchor working for the Coalition Provisional Authority’s Iraq Media Network (IMN), was killed in the town of Baqouba when unidentified armed assailants opened fire on a bus carrying several employees of the IMN’s Diyala Media Centre. Diyala Media Centre produced the IMN’s Diyala TV, a local television station. The interim Iraqi government later took over the IMN as part of its public broadcasting network.
Technician Najeed Rashid and security guard Muhammad Ahmad Sarham were also killed in the attack, according to Charlie Reiser, the U.S. Army spokesman in Diyala. Ten others were seriously injured.
The bus was transporting employees to the media center when a car carrying three men approached and overtook the bus as it approached the station’s entry from the
main highway, Reiser said. The assailants opened fire before fleeing the scene.
Reiser said the employees “were targeted because of their affiliation with the Coalition Forces.”
Ali Abdel Aziz, Al-Arabiya, March 18, 2004, Baghdad
Ali al-Khatib, Al-Arabiya, March 19, 2004, Baghdad
Cameraman Abdel Aziz and reporter al-Khatib of the United Arab Emiratesbased news channel Al-Arabiya were shot dead near a U.S. military checkpoint in Baghdad.
The two journalists, along with a technician and a driver, were covering the aftermath of a rocket attack against the Burj al-Hayat Hotel, according to Al-Arabiya. The crew arrived at the scene in two vehicles and parked about 110 to 165 yards (100 to 150 meters) away from a checkpoint near the hotel. Technician Mohamed Abdel Hafez said that he, Abdel Aziz, and al-Khatib approached the soldiers on foot and spoke with them for a few minutes but were told they could not proceed.
As the three men prepared to depart, the electricity in the area went out and a car driven by an elderly man approached U.S. troops, crashing into a small metal barrier near a military vehicle at the checkpoint. Abdel Hafez said that as the crew pulled away from the scene, one of their vehicles was struck by gunfire from the direction of the U.S. troops. Abdel Hafez said he witnessed two or three U.S. soldiers firing but was not sure at whom they were firing. He said there had been no other gunfire in the area at the time.
Bullets passed through the rear windshield of the car in which Abdel Aziz and al-Khatib were driving. Abdel Aziz died instantly of a bullet wound, or wounds, to the head, while al-Khatib died in a hospital the next day, also due to head wounds.
According to press reports, the U.S. military commander in Iraq at the time, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, ordered an “urgent review” of the incident. On March 29, the U.S. military said it had completed its investigation and accepted responsibility for the deaths of the two journalists.
A statement posted on the Combined Joint Task Forces 7’s Web site expressed “regret” for the deaths and said the investigation determined that the incident was an “accidental shooting.” Press reports quoted U.S. military officials saying that the soldiers who had opened fire acted within the “rules of engagement.”
The military’s statement said the “investigation concluded that no soldiers fired intentionally” at the Al-Arabiya car. The military has said that the full investigative report is classified; CPJ has sought a copy of the report under the Freedom of Information Act.
Burhan Mohamed Mazhour, ABC, March 26, 2004, Fallujah
Mazhour, a freelance Iraqi cameraman working for the U.S.-based television network ABC, was killed in the city of Fallujah, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of the capital, Baghdad.
The Washington Post reported that 15 Iraqis were killed in Fallujah following a firefight that occurred “as U.S. Marines conducted house-to-house searches” in the city. Agence France-Presse reported that Mazhour, who had been freelancing for ABC for nearly two months, was standing among a group of working journalists “when U.S. troops fired in their direction.”
According to ABC News, Mazhour was struck in the head by a single bullet and later died in a hospital.
Asaad Kadhim, Al-Iraqiya TV, April 19, 2004, near Samara
Kadhim, a correspondent for the U.S.-funded Al-Iraqiya TV, and his driver, Hussein Saleh, were killed by gunfire from U.S. forces near a checkpoint close to the Iraqi city of Samara, about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northwest of the capital, Baghdad. Cameraman Jassem Kamel was injured in the shooting.
On April 20, Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the deputy director of operations for coalition forces in Iraq, confirmed that U.S. troops had killed the journalist and his driver. According to media reports, Kimmitt said that coalition forces at the checkpoint warned the journalists’ vehicle to stop by firing several warning shots. When the vehicle ignored those shots, Kimmitt said, forces fired at the car.
The Associated Press reported that Kimmitt said there were signs in the area indicating that filming was banned at both the base and the checkpoint. According to the AP, Kimmitt said the signs were designed to prevent Iraqi insurgents from canvassing the area.
Cameraman Kamel told the AP that no warning shots had been fired at their vehicle.
Waldemar Milewicz, TVP, May 7, 2004, Mahmoudiya
Mounir Bouamrane, TVP, May 7, 2004, Mahmoudiya
Milewicz, one of Poland’s most experienced war correspondents, and his producer, Bouamrane, both employed by Polish state television TVP, were shot by armed gunmen, presumably Iraqi insurgents, while riding in their car at around 9:30 a.m. in Mahmoudiya, about 19 miles (30 kilometers) south of the capital, Baghdad.
The journalists were headed toward a Polish military base in Babylon, south of Baghdad, according to Agence France-Presse.
TVP cameraman Jerzy Ernst, who was also in the car along with an Iraqi driver, was injured during the attack. Press reports quoted Ernst as saying that the main southbound highway out of Baghdad was closed, so their driver took an alternate route he thought would be safe. Ernst said their car, a sedan, came under fire from behind, and that Milewicz and Bouamrane were sitting in the back seat. After Milewicz was shot, the other passengers exited the car, but the gunfire continued, killing Bouamrane and injuring Ernst.
According to press reports, the journalists had only been Iraq for a few days.
Rashid Hamid Wali, Al-Jazeera, May 21, 2004, Karbala
Wali, assistant cameraman and fixer for the Qatar-based satellite channel Al-Jazeera, was killed by gunfire early in the morning in the city of Karbala, the station reported.
According to a statement on Al-Jazeera’s Web site, Wali was killed by a single gunshot to the head when he peered over the edge of the rooftop of the Khaddam Al-Hussein Hotel, where an Al-Jazeera news team was covering fighting between U.S. troops and members the Mehdi Army, which is loyal to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Al-Jazeera said there was “no verifiable information … as to the source of the bullet.”
Shinsuke Hashida, freelance, May 27, 2004, near Mahmoudiya
Kotaro Ogawa, freelance, May 27, 2004, near Mahmoudiya
Hashida and his nephew Ogawa, both freelance journalists, were killed along with their translator when their car came under attack by Iraqi gunmen near Mahmoudiya, 20 miles (30 kilometers) south of the capital, Baghdad, according to news reports.
Bangkok-based freelancer Hashida and Ogawa had been traveling to Baghdad from the southern city of Samawah, where Japan deployed hundreds of troops, when the attack occurred. Agence France-Presse listed the translator as Mohamed Najmedin.
The Associated Press reported that the men were working for the Japanese tabloid daily Nikkan Gendai covering Japanese troops stationed in the southern city of Samawah. Japanese TV channel NHK reported that the two journalists had also worked for several other Japanese news organizations.
According to press reports, the journalists’ car burst into flames after the attack. AFP and Reuters reported that the car was hit by rocket-propelled grenade fire. The driver, an Iraqi who survived the attack, told NHK that he was able to exit the car before it exploded.
Hashida’s body was badly burned in the fire. The AP reported that Ogawa’s body was found six miles (10 kilometers) from the wreck. Japanese press reports said that Ogawa might have been executed by the gunmen after fleeing or being taken away from the scene.
Hashida was an experienced journalist who had covered several conflicts as a TV reporter, according to Japanese media reports.
Mahmoud Hamid Abbas, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, August 15, 2004, Fallujah
Abbas, 32, an Iraqi cameraman working for the German television station Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), was killed on assignment in Fallujah, said Ulrich Tilgner, ZDF’s Baghdad bureau chief. He said Abbas called the station to say he had filmed the bombardment of a house in Fallujah by U.S. forces and that he would be returning to Baghdad.
Abbas called the station back a half hour later to say he had been caught in heavy fighting, then the phone line went dead, Tilgner said. The station learned of Abbas’ death the next day, after his body was brought to a Fallujah mosque. Abbas also worked as a producer and editor for ZDF, a public television broadcaster.
Enzo Baldoni, freelance, August 26, 2004, near Najaf
Baldoni, 56, an Italian freelance journalist, was murdered by kidnappers from a militant group calling itself the Islamic Army in Iraq.
Baldoni, who normally wrote advertising copy, had gone to Iraq to research a book on militant groups, said Enrico Deaglio, editor of the Milan-based weekly magazine, Diario della Settimana. He said Baldoni had agreed to contribute freelance articles to Diario della Settimana from Iraq.
The Italian Foreign Ministry reported Baldoni missing on August 20. He was believed to be heading toward the southern city of Najaf, where U.S. forces had battled with Shiite insurgents for several weeks.
The Qatar-based news channel Al-Jazeera reported that it received a video from the kidnappers showing Baldoni after the killing. The network did not air the videotape, it said, out of sensitivity to his family. Italian officials confirmed Al-Jazeera’s report, according to Italy’s Ansa news agency.
In a video released two days earlier, on August 24, the kidnappers demanded that Italy withdraw its 3,000 troops from Iraq and said it would not guarantee Baldoni’s safety if the demand was not met.
Mazen al-Tumeizi, Al-Arabiya, September 12, 2004, Baghdad
Mazen al-Tumeizi, a reporter for Al-Arabiya television, was killed after a U.S. helicopter fired missiles and machine guns to destroy a disabled American vehicle, international news reports said. Seif Fouad, a camera operator for Reuters Television, and Ghaith Abdul Ahad, a freelance photographer working for Getty Images, were wounded in the strike.
That day at dawn, fighting erupted on Haifa Street in the center of Baghdad, a U.S. Bradley armored vehicle caught fire, and its four crew members were evacuated with minor injuries, according to news reports. As a crowd gathered, one or more U.S. helicopters opened fire.
Video aired by Al-Arabiya showed that al-Tumeizi was preparing a report nearby when an explosion behind him caused him to double over and scream, “I’m dying, I’m dying.” He died moments later, the Dubai-based station reported.
Military spokesman Lt. Col. Steven Boylan told The Associated Press that a U.S. helicopter fired on the disabled Bradley vehicle to prevent looters from stripping it.
But Reuters quoted a statement from the military that presented a different account. “As the helicopters flew over the burning Bradley they received small-arms fire from the insurgents in vicinity of the vehicle,” the statement said. “Clearly within the rules of engagement, the helicopters returned fire, destroying some anti-Iraqi forces in the vicinity of the Bradley.”
Karam Hussein, European Pressphoto Agency, October 14, 2004, Mosul
Hussein, an Iraqi photographer working for the German-based European Pressphoto Agency (EPA), was killed by a group of gunmen in front of his home in the northern city of Mosul. The precise motive was not immediately known, but Hussein’s colleagues believe it was connected to his work for a foreign news organization.
The gunmen attacked Hussein as he returned home from an Internet café across the street, according to a colleague who spoke to the journalist’s family. The colleague said Hussein was shot first in the leg before the assailants pursued him and shot him dead at close range.
Another colleague told CPJ that Hussein had received a written threat about six months before his death, when he worked for another international news organization. The threat, according to the colleague, warned Hussein to stop his work and accused him of being a “traitor.”
Dina Mohammed Hassan, Al-Hurriya, October 14, 2004 Baghdad
Hassan, an Iraqi reporter for the local Arabic-language television station Al-Hurriya TV, was killed in a drive-by shooting in front of her Baghdad residence in the city’s Adhamiya District. Hassan had been waiting for a company car to transport her to work, station staff told CPJ.
Hassan’s colleagues told The New York Times that the journalist had received three letters warning her to stop working for Al-Hurriya. A colleague who was with Hassan during the shooting told The Times that a blue Oldsmobile with three men pulled in front of them, then a man opened fire at Hassan with a Kalashnikov rifle. He shouted, “Collaborator! Collaborator!” the newspaper reported.
Al-Hurriya Director Nawrooz Mohamed Fatah told CPJ that militant groups might perceive the station as sympathetic to the United States since its financial backer—the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan—has friendly U.S. relations.
Dhia Najim, freelance, November 1, 2004, Ramadi
Najim, an Iraqi freelance cameraman, was shot and killed in the western city of Ramadi, where he had been covering a gun battle between the U.S. military and Iraqi insurgents.
Najim, who worked for a number of news organizations, was on assignment for Reuters that day. He was shot in the back of the neck while working near his home in the Andalus District of Ramadi, 70 miles (112 kilometers) west of the capital, Baghdad, Reuters said.
“Video shot from an upper floor of a building nearby shows Najim, at first half-hidden by a wall, move into the open,” Reuters reported. “As soon as he emerges, a powerful gunshot cracks out and he falls to the ground, his arms outstretched. Civilians are seen gathering calmly at the scene immediately afterwards to look at his lifeless body.”
A November 2 statement from the 1st Marine Division of the I Marine Expeditionary Force said that U.S. forces “engaged several insurgents in a brief small arms firefight that killed an individual who was carrying a video camera.”
The statement went on to say, “Inspection of videotape in [Najim’s] camera revealed footage of previous attacks on Multi-National Force military vehicles that included the insurgent use of RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), an IED (roadside bomb) and small arms fire.” The statement also said that the insurgents who fought U.S. forces “fled the scene with their wounded but left the body of the dead man along the side of the road.”
On November 3, The New York Times reported that the Marine Corps had opened an investigation. “‘We did kill him,” an unnamed military official told The Times. “‘He was out with the bad guys. He was there with them, they attacked, and we fired back and hit him.”
Reuters rejected the military’s implication that Najim was working as part of an insurgent group. The agency reported that video footage showed no signs of fighting in the vicinity and noted that Najim had “filmed heavy clashes between Marines and insurgents earlier in the day but that fighting had subsided.”
On November 2, CPJ wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld seeking an inquiry into the incident.
ISRAEL AND THE OCCUPIED TERRITORIES: 1
Mohamed Abu Halima, Al-Najah, March 22, 2004, West Bank
Abu Halima, a journalism student at Al-Najah University in Nablus and a correspondent for university-affiliated Al-Najah radio station, was shot at the entrance of the Balata refugee camp, outside the city of Nablus, according to local Palestinian journalists. Abu Halima, who also worked as a freelance photographer, was reporting on Israeli troop activity near the camp.
Moaz Shraida, a producer and host at the station who was speaking to the journalist moments before he was killed, said that Abu Halima described three Israeli jeeps about 1 mile (2 kilometers) away from the camp’s entrance, where he was standing. Shraida said that Abu Halima told him that he had begun to photograph the jeeps. Shraida said he then heard gunfire and lost contact with Abu Halima.
Shraida spoke later to Abu Halima’s cousin, who was at the scene. The cousin said that Abu Halima was struck by Israeli gunfire in the stomach and died at a local hospital. CPJ has not been able to speak with Abu Halima’s cousin or independently confirm his account.
A family member of Abu Halima told CPJ that the journalist was dressed in street clothing the day of the shooting. Local journalists told CPJ that witnesses said that Abu Halima was standing among a crowd of people at the entrance of the camp when he was shot. The journalists also said that prior to the shooting there had been clashes in the area between Palestinian youths and the Israeli army.
In a voicemail message to CPJ, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces who identified himself as Sam Weiderman said that “as far as we know, [Abu Halima] was not a journalist,” that Abu Halima “was armed and he opened fire on IDF forces,” and that the IDF “returned fire.”
IVORY COAST: 1
Antoine Massé, Le Courrier d’Abidjan, November 7, 2004, Duékoué
Massé, a correspondent for the private daily Le Courrier d’Abidjan, was fatally shot while covering violent clashes between French troops and demonstrators in the western Ivoirian town of Duékoué, his editor told CPJ.
Le Courrier d’Abidjan Editor Théophile Kouamouo told CPJ that Massé was among several people killed during a demonstration by the pro-government group Young Patriots, which opposed the movement of French peacekeeping troops from the west to the commercial capital, Abidjan. The demonstration came amid several days of violence in the former French colony during which dozens were killed and many more injured and displaced.
The turmoil began November 6 after an Ivory Coast air strike against French peacekeepers killed nine soldiers and a U.S. aid worker. France, which had been overseeing a fragile cease-fire between rebel and government forces, retaliated by destroying the country’s military aircraft—sparking an uprising by loyalist youths in the south who took to the streets armed with machetes, iron bars, and clubs. France and other nations began evacuating thousands of foreigners as a result.
Kouamouo, whose newspaper is considered sympathetic to President Laurent Gbagbo’s Ivoirian Patriotic Front party, claimed that French troops had opened fire during the November 7 clash in Duékoué. French military officials did not comment directly on Massé’s death, although French Gen. Henri Bentegeat acknowledged that his soldiers had opened fire in certain cases to hold back violent mobs, the Associated Press reported.
Francisco Javier Ortiz Franco, Zeta, June 22, 2004, Tijuana
Ortiz Franco, co-editor of the Tijuana-based weekly Zeta, was gunned down by unidentified assailants in the border city of Tijuana, in Baja California State.
The journalist had just left a physical therapy clinic with his two children when masked gunmen in a vehicle pulled up to his car and shot him four times in the head and neck. Ortiz Franco died at the scene. His children were unharmed.
Later that day, Mexican President Vicente Fox telephoned J. Jesús Blancornelas, Zeta‘s publisher and editor, to promise federal support for the investigation. The week after the murder, Zeta published an investigative article naming several possible suspects, including gunmen linked to the powerful Arellano Félix drug cartel.
One of the founders of Zeta in 1980, Ortiz Franco wrote editorials and worked on many investigative reports. He also served on a panel created by the Mexican government and the Inter American Press Association to review official investigations into the murders of Héctor Félix Miranda, Zeta’s co-founder, and Víctor Manuel Oropeza, a columnist with the Diario de Juárez newspaper.
The Baja California State Attorney’s office initially headed the investigation, but federal authorities assumed control in August. Federal prosecutor José Luis Vasconcelos said several men under arrest for separate crimes had identified the killers and connected the murder to the Tijuana drug cartel controlled by the Arellano Félix family. The connection to drug trafficking, a federal offense in Mexico, opened the door for federal investigators to take over.
Ortiz Franco seldom wrote about drug trafficking during his long tenure at Zeta, but he began to develop new sources in the months before he was killed. Investigators believe that Ortiz Franco was killed because of his work as a journalist and are considering stories he wrote about the Arellano Félix cartel as the probable motive.
Zeta has covered corruption and drug trafficking in Tijuana for many years, with its award-winning reports prompting threats and attacks against its journalists.
In November 1997, members of the Arellano Félix drug cartel wounded Blancornelas, and killed his friend and bodyguard, Luis Valero Elizalde. In April 1988, Miranda was fatally shot by two men working as security guards at a racetrack owned by Jorge Hank Rhon, an influential businessman who was elected mayor of Tijuana in August.
Francisco Arratia Saldierna, columnist for four newspapers, August 31, 2004, Matamoros
Arratia, 55, a columnist with four regional newspapers throughout the state of Tamaulipas, died of a heart attack after being brutally beaten in the city of Matamoros, near the U.S. border.
Arratia wrote a column called “Portavoz” (Spokesman) that appeared in El Imparcial and El Regional in Matamoros, and Mercurio and El Cinco in Ciudad Victoria, the state capital. It also appeared in the Internet publication “En Línea Directa.” In his column, Arratia wrote frequently about political corruption, organized crime, and education. He was also a high school teacher and ran a used car business in this border region near Texas.
According to Mexican news reports, Arratia had an argument with a group of individuals who came to his business in a red vehicle around 1:30 p.m. On his way home, a half hour later, Arratia was intercepted and kidnapped by the group, the Mexico City-based daily El Universal reported.
Around 3 p.m. Matamoros police received an anonymous call saying a severely beaten man was outside the offices of the Red Cross. According to local reports, Arratia had been tortured before being dumped from a moving vehicle. The columnist had his fingers broken, his skull fractured, his palms burned, and his chest injured. Arratia was taken to a nearby hospital and died moments later of a heart attack.
On September 24, Tamaulipas police arrested Raúl Castelán Cruz in Matamoros. At the time of his arrest, police said, Castelán was armed with an AR-15 automatic weapon with a telescopic sight, a 9mm pistol, handcuffs, more than 90 cartridges, and three cellular phones, according to state prosecutors. Investigators said that Castelán was caught through the use of Arratia’s cellular phone.
In his statement to state authorities, Castelán confessed to participating in the killing of Arratia, according to Roberto Maldonado Siller, the regional delegate of the Tamaulipas state attorney’s office. Castelán also said the murder was motivated by Arratia’s journalistic work, according to Maldonado Siller.
On September 30, federal authorities office began investigating other aspects of the crime, including drug trafficking and weapons possession. A federal court in the state of Mexico formally charged Castelán with weapons possession on October 12. The suspect, who is being held at Mexico’s top-security La Palma prison west of Mexico City, was formally accused of Arratia’s murder on December 27. An accomplice was at large.
Dekendra Raj Thapa, Radio Nepal, August 11, Dailekh
Rebels in midwestern Nepal’s Dailekh District claimed to have killed Thapa, a journalist for state-run Radio Nepal and head of a local drinking water project. Local sources told CPJ that Thapa’s murder was connected to his work as a journalist. After the slaying, local rebel commanders told Thapa’s family that they intended to kill 10 other journalists in neighboring districts, according to local news reports.
Maoists abducted Thapa on June 26, and a rebel commander said on August 16 that they had executed him on August 11, according to local news reports.
Maoist rebels posted leaflets in Thapa’s hometown in Dailekh on August 17 “charging” him with 10 counts of crimes against what the rebels refer to as their “people’s regime.” Among other accusations, the rebels accused Thapa of spying for state security forces while using his profession as a cover.
Thapa belonged to the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ) and was an adviser to the local branch of Human Rights and Peace Society, a Nepalese human rights group. A delegation from FNJ met with Maoists in Dailekh to make appeals on Thapa’s behalf before the rebels said they killed him.
Journalists took to the streets of the capital, Kathmandu, on August 18 to protest Thapa’s killing, according to local news reports. Local journalists said that his murder and the subsequent death threats were intended to silence the press in the Maoist-controlled midwestern districts of Nepal.
In a rare response to journalists’ outrage, Maoist spokesman Krishna Bahadur Mahara wrote a letter to FNJ in September in which he called the murder a breach of policy, promised to investigate the killing and to respect press freedom, and stated that the party had conducted “self-criticism” on the matter.
Carlos José Guadamuz, “Dardos al centro,” February 10, 2004, Managua
Guadamuz, the outspoken host of “Dardos al centro” (Darts to the Bull’s-Eye) on Canal 23 television, was killed when he arrived at work in the capital, Managua. William Hurtado García, a street vendor and one-time agent with state security services under the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN) government, shot the journalist several times at point-blank range before being subdued by Guadamuz’s son and Canal 23 employees, authorities said.
Hurtado, who pleaded guilty in April and was sentenced to 21 years in prison, said in court that he killed Guadamuz because of the commentator’s frequent criticism of the FSLN. Guadamuz was once a senior member of the FSLN—now the leading opposition party—and was a friend of FSLN leader and three-time presidential candidate Daniel Ortega until the two parted ways in the 1990s. Since 1996, he had been a fierce critic of Ortega and FSLN party leaders, whom he often denounced as corrupt.
In May, two people charged as accomplices were acquitted. Prosecutors have appealed the acquittals, but the Managua Appeals Court has yet to schedule a hearing. Prosecutor Luden Montenegro told CPJ that the case remains open, and police continue to investigate.
María José Bravo, La Prensa, November 9, 2004, Juigalpa
Reporter Bravo, who was covering a dispute over recent elections, was killed outside an electoral office in the city of Juigalpa, capital of central Chontales Department.
The 26-year-old Bravo, a correspondent for the Managua daily La Prensa in Chontales, had just exited the Juigalpa vote-counting center and was talking to several people when she was shot once at close range at around 6:30 p.m., La Prensa reported. She was taken to a hospital in Juigalpa but was declared dead on arrival.
Bravo was covering protests by supporters of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), which has a majority in the National Assembly, and supporters of the Alliance for the Republic (APRE) coalition, which backs President Enrique Bolaños Geyer. Both sides were challenging the results of the November 7 elections in two municipalities.
On the evening of her murder, police detained Eugenio Hernández González, a former PLC mayor of the town of El Ayote, and identified him as the main suspect in Bravo’s death, according to La Prensa newspaper. Police took a .38-caliber handgun from Hernández. Some witnesses interviewed by La Prensa claimed to have seen Hernández reach for a handgun just before Bravo was shot.
After the results of the November 7 elections were announced confirming a major victory for the opposition Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and a significant defeat for the PLC, several incidents of political violence occurred throughout Nicaragua.
Sajid Tanoli, Shumal, January 29, 2004, Mansehra
Tanoli, 35, a reporter with the regional Urdu-language daily Shumal, was killed in the town of Mansehra in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province. Tanoli was stopped on a highway, dragged from his car and shot several times, the Associated Press of Pakistan reported.
Tanoli had written critically about the head of the local government, including a story three days before the slaying that described an allegedly illegal liquor business run by the politician. Local journalist groups condemned the killing, which they said was motivated by Tanoli’s reporting.
Antonio de la Torre Echeandía, Radio &OACUTE;rbita, February 14, 2004
De la Torre, host of “El equipo de la noticia” (The News Team) on Radio &OACUTE;rbita in the city of Yungay, in the northern department of Ancash, was murdered after leaving a party in the evening.
Two unidentified men stabbed the 43-year old journalist as he was heading home. According to local news reports quoting his wife and son, de la Torre identified one of his attackers as “El Negro,” a nickname for Hipólito Casiano Vega Jara, a driver for the Yungay mayor’s office. Police have arrested Vega. Antonio Torres, a friend of de la Torre who allegedly led the journalist to the scene of his murder, was also arrested.
De la Torre was a harsh critic of his former friend, Yungay Mayor Amaro León, whom he accused of malfeasance. In 2002, de la Torre had worked as a campaign chief for León, the Lima-based daily La República reported. After León won the elections, he appointed de la Torre head of the municipality’s public relations office. The two parted ways three months into León’s tenure as mayor, when de la Torre resigned after discovering several instances of alleged corruption, according to La República.
Julio César Giraldo &AACUTE;ngeles, owner of Radio &OACUTE;rbita, said that de la Torre had been threatened and attacked several times. In October 2003, Giraldo said, unidentified individuals had hurled a homemade bomb at the journalist’s home in the middle of the night. The explosion did not cause major damage, and de la Torre was able to put out the fire. De la Torre had also received several anonymous threatening letters, Giraldo said.
De la Torre’s family has blamed Mayor León for the murder, but León has rejected any involvement in the crime.
On March 17, at the request of the Yungay Public Prosecutor’s Office, an Ancash court ordered León and his daughter detained on charges of masterminding de la Torre’s murder in an attempt to silence the journalist. According to Prosecutor Luz Marina Romero, two other municipal workers were charged as accomplices in the crime. The four are jailed in a prison in Huaraz, the capital of Ancash Department. Another man charged in the murder remains a fugitive.
Rowell Endrinal, DZRC, February 11, 2004, Legazpi City
Two unidentified assailants shot Endrinal, a commentator on radio station DZRC in Legazpi City, Albay Province, while he was leaving his house for the radio station at 6:20 a.m. The local police chief, Jaime Lazar, told journalists that the assailants shot Endrinal in the foot and then continued shooting him in the head and body as he fell.
Endrinal hosted a political commentary show on DZRC in which he spoke out against local politicians and criminal gangs, said the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), a local press freedom organization. He also published the regional newspaper Bicol Metro News. Endrinal’s wife and colleagues said he had recently received death threats.
Elpidio Binoya, Radyo Natin, June 17, 2004, General Santos
Binoya, a radio commentator and local station manager with Radyo Natin, was gunned down outside the port city General Santos, on the southern island of Mindanao, according to local news reports. Binoya was known for his pointed political commentaries.
Binoya was on his way home in the afternoon when two gunmen on a motorcycle ambushed him along a highway on the outskirts of the city. The assailants chased down Binoya, who was also riding a motorcycle, and shot him several times from behind. The shots killed him instantly, according to news reports. The gunmen then fled the scene.
General Santos Police Chief Willie Dangane said that Binoya had made enemies among politicians in the southern town of Malungon, where his station is based, and that he had been beaten the week before his killing, according to The Associated Press.
In early August, the General Santos City Prosecutor’s Office found “probable cause for murder qualified by treachery and evident premeditation” against local political leader Ephraim “Toto” Englis and identified two other individuals allegedly involved in the killing, according to the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), a local press freedom organization.
Englis and a second suspect, Alfonso Roquero, surrendered to local police on August 23, and Dangane initiated the filing of murder charges against the two, according to The Philippine Star. In his broadcasts, Binoya had accused Englis of bribery, according to CMFR. Englis and Roquero denied involvement in the slaying.
Rogelio “Roger” Mariano, Radyo Natin-Aksyon Radyo, July 31, 2004, Laoag City
Mariano, a commentator for Radyo Natin-Aksyon Radyo, was fatally shot by unidentified gunmen in Laoag City, the capital of Ilocos Norte Province, according to news reports.
Mariano was riding his motorcycle home after completing a broadcast at DZJC Radyo Natin-Aksyon Radyo when assailants shot him several times in the back and head.
Local journalists believe that Mariano’s death was connected to his hard-hitting commentaries. The veteran broadcaster’s final program denounced illegal jueteng gambling operations in the city, as well as financial irregularities in the local electric cooperative.
Arnnel Manalo, Bulgar and DZRH Radio, August 5, 2004, Bauan
Gunmen ambushed and killed Manalo, 42, a correspondent for the Manila tabloid Bulgar and radio station DZRH, in the morning, shortly after he dropped off his children at school, according to international news reports and local journalists.
Two men on a motorcycle shot Manalo three times at 7:15 a.m. while he was returning home in Bauan, Batangas Province, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) south of the capital, Manila, according to news reports. Manalo was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
On August 26, police arrested suspected gunman Michael Garcia, according to local news reports. Police said that they believe Garcia was hired by local political leader Edilberto Mendoza, who turned himself in to authorities a few days later.
The journalist’s brother Apollo Manalo was riding in the victim’s car when he was killed. Police filed charges against Garcia after Apollo identified the suspect from police records, according to local news reports.
Police suspect that Manalo was killed for his reporting on Mendoza, according to local news reports.
Romeo (or Romy) Binungcal, Remate and Bulgar, September 29, 2004, Bataan Province
Binungcal, a correspondent for two national Manila-based tabloids, Remate and Bulgar, was killed while riding home on his motorcycle in Bataan Province, in the central Luzon Region. Unidentified gunmen fired five shots at close range, according to local and international news reports.
Local journalists said his murder came in retaliation for his reporting on corrupt provincial police. Sources told CPJ that the murder may have been committed on the orders of local police officers who lost their jobs as a result of Binungcal’s reporting
Binungcal was a businessman in addition to working as a journalist, but he was well-known for his reporting on corrupt officials. He was also the former editor of the local Mt. Samat Weekly Forum.
Eldy Sablas (also known as Eldy Gabinales), Radio DXJR-FM, October 19, 2004, Tandag
An unidentified assailant shot Sablas three times from behind at about 10 a.m. as the radio commentator rode a three-wheeled motorcycle away from a supermarket in Surigao del Sur Province on the southern island of Mindanao.
Local journalists noted that Sablas, who hosted “Singgit sa mga Lungsuranon” (Cry of the People) on Radio DXJR-FM, was a strident critic of the drug trade and illegal gambling. Regional Police Chief Rene Elumbaring told The Associated Press that police were investigating the murder, which occurred in the town of Tandag, 510 miles (820 kilometers) southeast of the capital, Manila.
Local sources told CPJ that Sablas was likely killed in retaliation for his hard-hitting commentary about illegal gambling.
Gene Boyd Lumawag, MindaNews, November 12, 2004, Jolo
An unidentified gunman shot photographer Lumawag, of the MindaNews news service, in the head, killing him instantly in Jolo, the capital of the southern Sulu Province.
Lumawag was photographing the sunset at the pier in Jolo on the last day of Ramadan in the Muslim-majority area when he was killed by a single bullet to the head, according to local news accounts. Lumawag, 26, had traveled to Jolo with another reporter on November 10 to work on a video documentary about transparency and local governing practices for the U.S.-based Asia Foundation.
Sulu Province, comprising a group of islands 310 miles (500 kilometers) south of the capital, Manila, is a bastion for the Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf, The Associated Press reported. Abu Sayyaf has been linked to al-Qaeda and has made headlines in recent years with high-profile kidnappings for ransom. The island province is also a stronghold for Jemaah Islamiah, the militant Islamic group.
The exact motive for Lumawag’s murder was unclear, and local police and army spokesmen put forward different theories. Army investigators told Mindanews Chairwoman Carolyn Arguillas, who had accompanied Lumawag, that they suspected Abu Sayyaf members were responsible for the killing. The head of the local antiterrorism unit, Brig. Gen. Agustin Dema-ala, also claimed in local news reports that the gunman’s description matched that of a wanted local Abu Sayyaf operative.
But in an interview with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, local police head, Chief Superintendent Vidal Querol, said that a corruption story the two journalists were pursuing was the likely motive. Local news accounts also speculated that Lumawag might have been mistaken as a spy or member of the military because his clothes resembled fatigues, and he spoke Filipino instead of the local Tausig language.
Herson Hinolan, Bombo Radiyo, November 13, 2004, Kalibo
Hinolan, station manager and commentator from Bombo Radiyo in Kalibo in the central Aklan Province, was shot in the abdomen and arms in the restroom of a local store, police told local reporters.
According to a report in The Straits Times, local police said the murder was likely in reprisal for Hinolan exposés “on illegal gambling, police brutality and corruption by local government executives.”
Hinolan was known as a “hard-hitting commentator,” local Chief Superintendent George Alino told Agence France-Presse. In a statement, Bombo Radyo managers accused “assassins” of “killing the messenger who is tasked to serve the public by way of exposing the truth.” The station offered a reward for any information leading to the identification or capture of those responsible for Hinolan’s murder.
Adlan Khasanov, Reuters, May 9, 2004, Grozny
Khasanov, a cameraman working for the British news agency Reuters, was killed by a bomb in Russia’s southern republic of Chechnya, according to local and international press reports.
The powerful bomb exploded at about 10:35 a.m. in the Dynamo Stadium in the Chechen capital, Grozny, where Khasanov was covering the annual Victory Day parade, which celebrates the Soviet Union’s 1945 victory over Nazi Germany.
The bomb killed at least six people, including Chechnya’s pro-Moscow president, Akhmad Kadyrov. The bomb was placed in a concrete pillar under the VIP section of the stadium, suggesting that Kadyrov and other senior Chechen and Russian officials were targeted. Local authorities found a second unexploded bomb in the stadium after the attack.
Khasanov, 33, had worked as a cameraman and photographer for the Moscow bureau of Reuters since the 1990s. He covered the second Chechen war and at times spent days trekking through the mountains into neighboring Georgia to deliver video footage to Reuters, according to Reuters.
On May 17, rebel warlord Shamil Basayev claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement posted on the pro-rebel Web site Kavkazcenter.com, according to international press reports. Russian authorities said they had a number of suspects in the case, but the investigation was ongoing at year’s end, according to CPJ sources in Moscow.
Paul Klebnikov, Forbes Russia, July 9, 2004, Moscow
Klebnikov, editor of Forbes Russia and an investigative reporter, was gunned down as he left his Moscow office at about 10 p.m. Authorities in Moscow described the case as a contract murder and said that he may have been killed because of his work. Klebnikov, 41, a U.S. journalist of Russian descent, was shot at least nine times from a passing car.
Klebnikov was the 11th journalist in Russia to be killed in a contract-style murder in the four years after President Vladimir Putin came to power, according to CPJ research. No one had been brought to justice in any of the cases.
A special crimes unit is investigating Klebnikov’s murder, Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov said.
On September 28, Moscow police said they arrested two Chechen men suspected in the murder. But the suspects denied involvement, and police backed off their initial assertion. Less than two months later, on November 18, Moscow police and the Belarusian security service arrested three other Chechens considered suspects in the murder. Authorities provided only limited information about the evidence they used to link the new suspects to the crime.
Some analysts reacted to the arrests with skepticism. After the September arrests were reported, Oleg Panfilov, director of the Moscow-based press freedom group Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, told an interviewer that authorities were pursuing a “farfetched Chechen trail.”
Forbes launched its Russian-language edition in April 2004, attracting significant attention a month later when it published a list of Russia’s wealthiest people. The magazine reported that Moscow had 33 billionaires, more than any other city in the world.
Klebnikov had written a number of books and articles that angered his subjects. His investigations often focused on the synergy of Russian business and organized crime, but he also addressed the conflict in Chechnya and the ethnic an
New York, January 3, 2005—Even in a year of combat casualties brought on by war, murder remained the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide in 2004, an analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists has found.