10 November 2004


Journalist shot dead during clashes following municipal elections

Incident details

María José Bravo



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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF has voiced outrage over the fatal shooting of reporter María José Bravo on 9 November 2004. The journalist was shot as she was covering clashes near a vote-counting centre in Juigalpa, Chontales department, 140 km south of Managua, two days after municipal elections were held throughout Nicaragua.

"With the exact circumstances of Bravo's death still unclear, we call for a thorough investigation to establish the source of the shots, including an autopsy and a ballistics report," RSF said in a letter to Interior Minister Julio Vega Pasquier.

Sources said Bravo, a 26-year-old correspondent for the dailies "Hoy" and "La Prensa", was struck in the chest by at least one and possibly as many as three gunshots. It is still not known why the shots were fired, but it seems Bravo was caught in a clash between supporters of two rival right-wing parties, the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) and the Alliance for the Republic (APRE). A police spokesperson said Bravo was shot in the heart and was dead on arrival at a hospital.

Police arrested three suspects, including the former PLC mayor of El Ayote, Eugenio Hernández, who is alleged to have fired the shots.

The results of the municipal elections have been the subject of much contention, with the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) winning a majority of municipalities for the first time in 14 years.

Bravo is the second journalist to be shot dead this year in Nicaragua. On 10 February, Carlos Guadamuz was gunned down at point-blank range outside the studios of his television station, Canal 23 de Noticias de Nicaragua (CDNN) (see IFEX alerts of 12 and 11 February 2004). The gunman was sentenced to 18 years in prison but his alleged accomplices were acquitted. Previously, no journalist had been killed in Nicaragua for several years.


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