By Christina Noriega and Hector Perez
Despite the comments of a senior Peruvian police official who said the killing of 22-year-old Lima reporter Fernando Raymondi was not motivated by his coverage of organized crime, drug trafficking and corruption, local journalists and international press freedom advocates continue to call for a thorough investigation of the shooting.
Raymondi’s killing marks the second death of a journalist this year in Peru, where the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said reporters covering organized crime and corruption are “frequently” targeted for their work. During a press conference concerning the killing of the wife of a journalist last month, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and Peruvian Press Council warned of increasing violence against journalists in the country.
A journalism senior at San Martín de Porres University, Raymondi joined the investigative unit at the leading Peruvian news magazine Caretas in July. According to Caretas, Raymondi had been investigating cases of local gangs’ alleged extortion of the construction industry and assassination plots at the time of his death.
Raymondi was attacked on November 9 at his family-owned grocery store in the city of Cañete where he’d recently investigated a number of suspicious killings by hired assassins.
Two unidentified gunmen approached the journalist as he conversed with his friend Diego Ormeño outside the shop. After the gunmen ordered Ormeño to leave, one of the men pointed a gun at Raymondi and signaled for him to enter the bodega where his father was working, Ormeño told Caretas. The gunmen asked Raymondi’s father where the store’s cash was located, but before he could hand over the 200 soles, one of the gunmen shot Raymondi in the chest. The gunmen left without taking any of the store’s goods or cash.
Raymondi died en route to the hospital.
At a press conference on Tuesday, the director of the national Peruvian police force Jorge Flores Goicochea said the case was “not a prearranged assassination, but an assault attempt that resulted in deadly consequences,” according to the national news outlet, Peru21[c3] .
Minister of Defense Daniel Urresti undermined those comments by suggesting all motives are still on the table.
“What General Flores Goicochea did was give the police’s hypothesis. No one has assured anything or dismissed anything,” said Urresti.
Additionally, an unnamed police investigator on the case said the investigation was still under way and no possible motivation for the killing had been thrown out, according to Caretas.
“We are still investigating,” the police investigator told Caretas. “We do not understand why the director of the police gave a statement when we still do not have concrete evidence.”
The Peruvian National Association of Journalists (ANP), IAPA and CPJ are demanding a thorough investigation of his death.
ANP Secretary General Zuliana Lainez refused to take the police director’s early assessment at face value.
“Indignation, is the only thing I can feel, when authorities are so quick to label it common crime,” said Lainez on a Facebook post. “Any connection of his death to his work is denied, like in all other cases. It’s maybe because of what a crime to a journalist means to a state.”
Américo Zambrano, an editor at Caretas who worked closely with Raymondi, said the journalist’s ongoing report on local cases of extortions and assassination plots could be a motive for the killing.
"I can't go out on a limb and say that this was the reason for the killing, but nothing can be ruled out," Zambrano said.
Caretas reported that residents living near the bodega said there had not been a robbery nearby in the last four years.
Local reports said that police have five suspects in custody, but their identities have not been made public.
Until they find the killer, all Raymondi’s father can do is wait.
“My son is a victim of the violence,” said Hilario Raymondi in an interview with Caretas.”I demand justice so his death won’t go unpunished, so that the ones who did this are punished, so that we can end all this spilling of blood once and for all.”
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.