Reporters Without Borders

Journalist gunned down in region under paramilitary sway after protection withdrawn

Journalist gunned down in region under paramilitary sway after protection withdrawn

Published on Monday 22 March 2010.
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Reporters Without Borders urges the Colombian authorities, especially the interior ministry, to explain why they recently stopped providing protection for Clodomiro Castilla Ospina, a magazine editor and radio reporter who was gunned down in the northern department of Córdoba on 19 March.

As someone who had often reported on the links between the Córdoba authorities and paramilitary groups, Castilla was a particular exposed journalist in one of the hemisphere’s most dangerous regions for the media.

“We offer our condolences to Castilla’s friends and family, especially his four children and his media colleagues,” Reporters Without Borders said. “We hope the local authorities will do everything possible to solve this murder, which came at a time of electoral tension and new revelations highlighting the scale of paramilitary infiltration of the ruling class.”

The editor of the magazine El Pulso del Tiempo and a reporter for radio La Voz de Montería, Castilla was gunned down outside his home in Montería, the departmental capital, on the evening of 19 March. The authorities have offered a reward for any useful information about his murder.

Castilla, who had received serious threats in the past, made a name for himself through his coverage of the activities of Salvatore Mancuso, a paramilitary chief who was finally extradited to the United States in 2008 to face drug-trafficking charges, La Voz director Rafael Gómez said.

He also testified to the supreme court during the trial of Reginaldo Montes et Juan Manuel López Cabrales, two parliamentarians who were convicted in 2008 of supporting a much-feared paramilitary group called the “Black Eagles.”

Castilla is the first journalist to be killed in connection with his work this year in Colombia, which was ranked 126th out of 175 countries in the 2009 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.

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