10 August 2011

Critical journalist slain

A critical Dominican journalist was kidnapped by gunmen and found dead hours later on 2 August. As the director of a magazine and host of a television programme, José Agustín Silvestre had accused political figures in the city of La Romana of involvement in drug trafficking, report the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Four assailants seized Agustín Silvestre, 59, and forced him into a jeep. His body was found on a highway between La Romana and San Pedro Macorís; he was shot three times.

He had hosted the program "La Voz de la Verdad" (The Voice of Truth) and published a twice-monthly magazine with the same name.

In May, a local prosecutor filed a defamation complaint against Agustín Silvestre for a TV report that accused an official of having links to drug traffickers. The journalist was imprisoned for several days and then released on bail. (RSF noted that shots were fired at his home at the time.) He was supposed to appear in court on 2 August, the same day he was killed.

According to RSF, the journalist was forced to leave La Romana temporarily after making allegations on air on 30 July about the recent murder of a local businessman. Prior to that, Agustín Silvestre told the press group Colegio Dominicano de Periodistas (CDP) that he was followed by two cars that tried to intercept him on 23 July, says CPJ. He also told CDP that he had information about the murder.

RSF reports that the Dominican police have named the people who masterminded and carried out the murder. They say a local businessman wanted revenge for an article by Agustín Silvestre linking him to criminal activity, including the murder of two people in La Romana.

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