Prime suspect in conspiracy to kill Paraguayan reporter freed

After the prime suspect behind the conspiracy to kill a Paraguayan journalist was freed on Dec. 31, 2011, the crime's perpetrators are now soliciting their own release on Jan. 10, reported the newspaper Vanguardia.

The radio reporter Merardo Romero was killed on Mar. 3, 2011, in the province of Itakyry, an area in southeastern Paraguay known for trafficking marijuana into Brazil, according to the newspaper ABC. Romero was a member of the Movimiento Colorado Esperanza political party and had received death threats from the group Honor Colorado, supposedly for his accusations of irregularities in the administration of the local municipality. In September, three men were accused of carrying out the killing; two of them are now petitioning for a writ of habeas corpus, which could free them, according to Vanguardia.

Fidel Duarte, accused of being the interlocutor between the crime's conspirators and executors, was arrested on Dec. 10, 2011, and 20 days later, Judge Alba García de Zúñiga commuted his detention to house arrest, reported the Press and Society Institute. Ex-mayor Miguel Ángel Soria and José Valenzuela, a public servant, have been implicated in the case but not tried.

“This is the last straw. Several regional politicians suspected of ordering Romero’s execution have from the outset been treated with curious laxity by the police and judicial authorities," Reporters Without Borders said on its website.