Photo: Luis Carlos Cervantes
A new agency created by the Colombian Inspector General’s Office will investigate this month’s murder of a journalist whose police protection had been recently withdrawn even though he had denounced a fresh death threat.
Luis Carlos Cervantes, the director of a radio station in the northwestern town of Taraza, was intercepted and gunned down on Aug. 12 by three men while riding his motorcycle.
Although the perpetrators have not yet been identified, the preliminary investigation indicates the Urabeños criminal gang, an offshoot of the now-defunct AUC paramilitary federation, was behind the killing.
To help solve the crime, the IG’s office created a “special agency” to cooperate on the investigation with prosecutors in Antioquia province.
Cervantes had been granted a police bodyguard in 2012 by the National Protection Unit, or UNP, a Colombian government body that protects journalists and others who have received threats stemming from their work, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders, known by its French initials as RSF, said.
But that protection was taken away two weeks prior to his death after the UNP determined that Cervantes was no longer in danger, even though the journalist told the unit he had received a new death threat on July 21.
After the murder, the Antioquia Journalists’ Association, RSF and the United Nations condemned the crime and called for a thorough investigation.
The national ombudsman’s office, for its part, said 93 journalists have reported various types of threats since the start of 2014, up from 42 cases during all of last year.