Alberto Rivera Fernández, Peru
Since he was killed on April 21, 2004, the colleagues and family of journalist and former Peruvian congressman Alberto Rivera Fernández have mobilized and knocked on a thousand and one doors in search of justice. But after more than six years they still haven’t found it in full.
On that fateful day, after finishing his usual program, Transparency, on radio Frecuencia Oriental in Pucallpa, Rivera, who is also president of the Ucayali Journalists' Federation, went to close up a shop he ran. When he was getting ready to leave for home, two strangers appeared and shot him in the chest. Rivera fell dying.
As his daughter Patricia said, the murderers tried to get rid of evidence that proved the involvement of others, stealing the victim’s agenda and briefcase where he kept important documents and his keys.
Rivera was a staunch critic of regional officials whom he had linked to drug trafficking, land schemes and lumber mills. A day before his murder, during a television program he was invited to, he listed the names of the officials that he considered corrupt and blamed Mayor Valdez Villacorta for any attack he might suffer.
The process following the killing has been plagued by irregularities to the point that the president of the Civil Chamber of the Superior Court of Ucayali was suspended from office for interfering in the criminaltrial, while that court’s Criminal Division, by a majority vote, acquitted the two accused as the masterminds, though the President of the Division voted to condemn them both to 20 years in prison.
Journalists and family members also questioned a conflict of interests in the case of a member of the Criminal Division for his friendship with the lawyer who paid the murderers.
Assassins and two town employees who had confessed that the mayor hired them to carry out the crime, reneged after receiving threats. Valdez and City Manager Solio Ramírez were indicted but later acquitted – a decision appealed by Rivera's relatives who asked for the acquittal to be overturned but strangely there was no appeal by the prosecution. The Supreme Court ruled in March 2009 to open a new case to process both as the suspected masterminds. Several perpetrators have been convicted and are in prison.
Justice is slow in Peru, although President Alan Garcia, told the IAPA mission in May that he hopes that Justice will soon fully clarify the Rivera case, and the Chairman of the Justice Department, Javier Villa, accepted recommendations from the IAPA that these types of crimes be tried in special criminal courts.
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