Paraguay calls for alleged murderer of journalist to be extradited from Brazil

Authorities in Paraguay have sent Brazil a formal request for the extradition of the man accused of being the mastermind behind the murder of journalist Pablo Medina on Oct.16, 2014.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, the warrant, delivered on March 30, asks the country to keep the suspect in preventive prison and is then "ordering the extradition of a Paraguayan citizen Vilmar Acosta Marques,” the former mayor of Ypejhú.

Medina, an ABC Color correspondent, was killed while returning from a journalistic reporting trip on a country road. He was stopped by two men who shot him several times in the chest and head. His assistant, Antonia Almada, was injured in the attack and died en route to hospital.

From the day of the murder, Acosta Marques was linked to the investigation due to the fact that Medina had repeatedly linked him to drug trafficking and even some homicides in his reporting. Two days later, the police and prosecutors searched his home, his parents’ home and the city's headquarters. But by that time, Acosta Marques was already a fugitive.

On October 29, the police and prosecution presented a report identifying Acosta Marques, who goes by the alias 'Neneco', as the mastermind beind the crime. It also links Wilson Acosta Marques and Flavio Acosta Riveros – the brother and cousin of 'Neneco' – as the perpetrators of the crime. Days earlier, authorities had found the Neneco's headquarters for marijuana production and storage. In December, authorities arrested a driver working for the city who confessed that his former boss was the one who ordered the attack.

On March 4, Neneco was captured by Brazilian authorities in the city of Naviraí, in Mato Grosso do Sul, after spending five months evading Paraguayan justice. Currently, Acosta Marques not only faces charges for the murder of Medina, but is also accused of drug trafficking.

However, his arrival in Paraguay has been hampered because Acosta Marques has claimed he is a Brazilian citizen. According to Brazilian law, compatriots cannot be extradited. In the official warrant sent by Paraguay, however, the authorities included documents that would prove Neneco’s Paraguayan citizenship.

The murder of Medina has generated rejection in the national and international community. Medina was not only the brother of a journalist who was also killed for reporting on drug trafficking on the border with Brazil, he also became the third journalist to be killed in the country in 2014. Medina was the target of constant threats and for a time worked under police protection, which had been suspended in 2013.

His assassination was a testament to the arduous and dangerous conditions faced by reporters covering the border area. On March 5, the Paraguayan journalist Gerardo Servián was killed by gunmen in Ponta Pora, a small town in Brazil. The incident occurred 200 meters from the territorial division of Pedro Juan Caballero, a city of Paraguay separated from Brazil by a street known for being the refuge of assassins and Brazilian convicts, according to Terra.

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.