Colombian journalist discovers gang's plot to kill him

A Colombian journalist claimed that criminal gangs he reported on were planning to kill him, reported the newspaper El Meridiano de Sucre.

Journalist Leiderman Ortiz Berrío said that one of his sources tipped him off on Thursday, Sept. 27, that the groups were planning to kill him on Oct. 31, according to the newspaper El Colombiano. The source told the journalist that the leader of the "Los Urabeños" gang had contracted assassins to kill him before the end of the month.

Threats against the radio journalist began after he aired a report about a grenade thrown at a home in the city of CaucasiaAntioquia on Sept. 13, added the newspaper.

Ortiz's reporting on forced disappearances and extortion in the mining industry committed by the Urabeños in the city was also credited for the threats, reported the website Periodistas en Español. Ortiz, director of the newspaper La Verdad del Pueblo and correspondent for several regional media, had recently reported on the killing of a miner who did not pay extortion money to the gang, according to the website.

The Colombian Federation of Journalists (FECOLPER) reported on its website that in years past the journalist had been the target of attempted bombings, warranting precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. FECOLPER asked the Colombian government to reevaluate and reinforce its security measures to guarantee the reporter's safety.

Neo-paramilitary criminal gangs known as BACRIM filled the power vacuum in the aftermath of the paramilitary demobilization in Colombia. They are blamed for wide-spread violence in the country and assuming control over the drug trade.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.