Police name journalist’s alleged killers, confirm reporting was motive
The Dominican police have named the people they think masterminded and carried out the 2 August abduction and murder of journalist José Agustín Silvestre de los Santos and say the motive was an article by Silvestre linking the alleged mastermind to a recent murder.
Also known as “Gajo,” Silvestre hosted the programme “La Voz de la Verdad” (Voice of Truth) on Caña Teve, a regional TV station in the east of the country, and edited a magazine of the same name (http://en.rsf.org/dominican-republic-investigative-journalist-s-murder-03-08-2011,40742.html).
“We hail the effort that has been put into this investigation and its rapid results,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Solving this case will send a signal in the fight against impunity. Now that it has been confirmed that the victim’s work as a journalist was the motive, we must point out that the Dominican Republic continues to be a risky country for journalists who try to cover such subjects as street violence, corruption and organized crime.”
According to investigators, Silvestre was abducted and murdered on the orders of Matías “Daniel” Avelino Castro, the owner of a hotel and advertising agency who used the alias of Joaquín Espinal Almeyda. They say Avelino wanted to avenge an article by Silvestre linking him to criminal activity including the murder of two people in the eastern city of La Romana.
It was Avelino who allegedly asked Ángel Amed Mañón Gutiérrez to carry out the murder. Mañón was arrested with the murder weapon on 7 August and, according to the police, has since made a confession. The police yesterday named three other suspected accomplices – Denny Júnior Serrano, Elvin Canario de Oleo and Fermín Marcelino Calderón. The police are searching for all three, as well as the alleged mastermind.
According to the police, traces of Silvestre’s blood were found in a rented car. Immediately after the murder, Avelino allegedly telephoned the head of the car rental agency, Antonio Rafael Fulgencio Lan, and asked him to destroy the rental contract. Fulgencio has been arrested and a judge yesterday ordered him held in pre-trial custody for three months on a charge of complicity. His lawyers plan to appeal.