Reporters Without Borders firmly condemns yesterday’s murder of 18-year-old TV presenter Mazen Mardan Al-Baghdadi in the northern city of Mosul. Al-Baghdadi, who worked for Mosul-based satellite TV station Al-Mousiliya, was gunned down outside his home by men claiming to be military intelligence officers.
The press freedom organization calls for a proper investigation that results in both the perpetrators and instigators being brought to justice. It would be regrettable if this case went unpunished, like 99 per cent of the 230 murders of journalists that have taken place since the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003.
Without an exemplary trial, those who murder journalists will continue to sow terror among the media throughout the country. Guaranteeing the safety of civilians, including journalists, who have been particularly exposed to the violence in Iraq since 2003, is a major challenge for the government.
Al-Baghdadi was slain by three armed men who arrived at his family’s home in the east Mosul neighbourhood of As-Sadiq at around 6 p.m. and introduced themselves as members of the Iraqi army’s intelligence service.
“They said they absolutely had to see Mazen,” the journalist’s father told an Iraqi press freedom NGO (Society to defending press freedom in Iraq). “I went into the house and called Mazen. As soon as he stepped out of the house, they shot him with a pistol.” The gunmen left immediately after fatally shooting Al-Baghdadi in the head.
He had worked for Al-Mousiliya for the past seven months, presenting “Mosul fi-l Usbu” (A week in Mosul), “Sabah al-Kheir” (Good Morning) and other programmes. He was the second Al-Mousiliya journalist to be killed this year. A privately-owned station covering the northern province of Ninawa, Al-Mousiliya was created in April 2005.
Al-Baghdadi was the sixth journalist to be murdered in Iraq since the start of the year and the fourth since the announced withdrawal of the last U.S. combat forces at the end of August.
Tahrir Kadhem Jawad, a cameraman employed by the U.S. Arabic-language TV station Al-Hurra, was killed by a bomb in Jasr Al-Korma, in east Fallujah, as he was about to leave for work on 4 October. The bomb had been placed underneath his car.
Safaa Al-Dine Abdul Hameed, the presenter of the Al-Mousiliya programme “Our Mosques,” was gunned down outside his home in Mosul as he was leaving for work on 8 September, just one day after Al-Iraqiya TV news presenter Riad Al-Saray was gunned down outside his home in Baghdad.