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Latino Daily News

Saturday May 19, 2012

2 Suspects Apprehended In Connection With Murder of Honduran Journalist

2 Suspects Apprehended In Connection With Murder of Honduran Journalist

Photo: Alfredo Villatoro's body was found May 15th

Click Here to Enlarge Photo

Two people have been arrested and two others are being sought in connection with the abduction and murder of journalist Alfredo Villatoro, the head of the Honduran National Police said.

The tactics used in Villatoro’s kidnapping were “atypical, as if (meant) to confuse” authorities, Jose Ricardo Ramirez told the international press at a session arranged by President Porfirio Lobo.

Ramirez described the two people arrested Thursday only as a man and a woman.

Police on Wednesday questioned two people serving time at Danli prison in eastern Honduras on suspicion that they were involved in relaying ransom demands to Villatoro’s family.

The 47-year-old Villatoro was kidnapped May 9 in Tegucigalpa while driving to radio station HRN, where he had been employed for two decades and worked as news coordinator.

His body was found around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, a few hours after Lobo said there was evidence the journalist was still alive.

The kidnappers placed a red bandana on Villatoro’s head and dressed him in a National Police uniform, media reports said.

The captors were not really after money, according to Lobo and Ramirez, who said the 2 million lempiras ($103,359) demanded for Villatoro’s safe return was a paltry amount given that at least a dozen people were involved in the crime.

“We can’t say for sure what is happening until we conclude the investigation, we can have ideas,” Ramirez said, suggesting the journalist’s murder was a reaction to the recent passage of laws making it easier to extradite suspected drug traffickers and racketeers.

Lobo echoed that notion and said he and his advisers were convinced the only way forward “is to remain in the struggle, not let ourselves be intimidated and to know that in this, as in other struggles, there are also martyrs.”

The manner of Villatoro’s killing - two shots to the head - and the fact that the killers dressed him in a police uniform indicate the involvement of organized crime, Ramirez said.

At about the same time the police director was talking to reporters, his official driver was dying after being shot with his own gun.

Francisco Pavon was shopping at the Alvarez market in Tegucigalpa when three men accosted him “to rob his gun, with which they shot him,” the victim’s daughter, Miriam Pavon, told reporters.

The 54-year-old officer died shortly after the shooting, according to the police report.