Jaime Flete García, a businessman based in the northern city of Santiago de los Caballeros, was charged on 12 January with hiring two men to murder Normando García, a cameraman employed by Santiago-based TV station Teleunión, on 9 August 2008. The two alleged hit men, José Amauris Santiago and José Agustín Espinal, were also charged with his murder.
“In a country where impunity has often been the rule in cases of violence against the press, the progress that has been made in the investigation into Normando García’s murder is a significant indication of a political and judicial will to enforce the rule of law,” Reporters Without Borders said.
“We will follow the trial closely and we hope it will set an example, as Dominican journalists continue to be exposed to serious reprisals, especially when they tackle sensitive stories such as corruption and drug trafficking,” the press freedom organisation added.
According to prosecutors, Flete’s motive for killing García stemmed from an incident at Flete’s car dealership in which Flete physically attacked a client in dispute over money and then forced one of his security guards to take responsibility for the assault.
García, who worked for the very popular regional programme “Detrás de las Noticias” (Behind the News), produced video footage showing that it was Flete, not the security guard, who assaulted the client. García subsequently appeared in court to testify for the prosecution against Flete and, as a result, was himself attacked by Flete’s security guards at the dealership.
After threatening García, Flete allegedly offered him 3 million pesos (55,000 euros) to stop using the videos as evidence against him. It was while he was in prison that he allegedly paid the two men to carry out the murder.