Reporters Without Borders calls for a full investigation into the circumstances of the death of the journalist Guillermo Quiroz Delgado on 27 November. The organization offers its condolences to his friends and family. The 31-year-old freelance journalist died after spending a week in intensive care in Maria Reina clinic in Sincelejo. He suffered severe injuries, particularly to the head, after falling from a moving police vehicle during a demonstration a week earlier in San Pedro, in Sucre department.
General Rodolfo Palomino, head of public safety for the national police, went in person to offer his condolences to the victim’s family on 1 December. Brigadier General Santiago Parra Rubiano, inspector general of the national police, said the three officers present in the truck at the time of the tragedy had been suspended and were under investigation.
“The apparent goodwill shown by the police high command is, alas, somewhat late,” said Reporters Without Borders. “The worst has happened and justice authorities are no longer able to deal directly with the participants in the tragedy, or compare their respective versions of events. However, the investigation must continue, without any pressure. The family of Guillermo Quiroz is entitled to the truth and General Palomino’s action should be taken as a promise to provide it.”
Quiroz went to San Pedro to report on a local protest against the energy multinational Pacific Rubiales on 20 November. He was stopped by the police on the grounds that his motorcycle documents were not in order and was put into a police vehicle.
The departmental police said in a press statement that Quiroz was taking part in the demonstration and that he was picked up because he behaved aggressively towards the officers who had stopped him. They also said the journalist assaulted an officer inside the police truck then jumped out of the vehicle to avoid being brought before the public prosecutor charged with assaulting a public official.
Interviewed in hospital later that day, Quiroz himself denied the police officers’ account. He said he was forced into the vehicle then hit violently on the head before being pushed out of the moving truck.
A few weeks before the tragedy, Quiroz reported to the Foundation for Press Freedom, a partner of Reporters Without Borders, that he had received threats over an article he published in September. He also complained about the lack of police response and arguments with officials over this attitude.