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Seven Honduran broadcasters slain since March 1

A friend of television journalist Jorge Orellana looks at his coffin.
A friend of television journalist Jorge Orellana looks at his coffin. (Edgard Garrido - Reuters)

Both men worked for a radio program that has reported on under-the-table logging contracts awarded to private enterprise in violation of national environmental codes. Mairena had covered organized crime and a contentious land dispute.

Nahum Palacios Arteaga, who had reported on the same land dispute, was driving in the northern town of Tocoa on March 14 when gunmen in two cars fatally shot him with AK-47 assault rifles. Palacios had complained about death threats, which he believed came from the military.

During the coup, troops raided Palacios's office and home, confiscated his car and equipment, and held his children at gunpoint, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which had urged officials to provide him with security.

After his death, the commission lamented "that the state did not implement precautionary measures to protect his life."

David Meza, a reporter for El Patio radio station, was shot to death from a van March 11 as he drove in the lush seaside town of La Ceiba. Meza, who had reported on organized crime, had received anonymous calls warning him to be "careful," according to the media groups and local reports.

Joseph Hernandez Ochoa, 26, an entertainment show host, was shot to death as he drove home from work March 1. A radio show host who supported the coup, Karol Cabrera, was wounded in the attack and believes she was the target. Three months earlier, gunman had killed her 16-year-old pregnant daughter.

Luis Antonio Chavez, 22, who hosted a children's radio program, was shot to death April 13.

Alexis Quiroz, the executive director of the Committee for Freedom of Expression in Honduras, said professional killings have been used in a variety of disputes since Mexican organizations began recruiting Honduran gangs to transport drugs.

"Assassins for hire are very common now," Quiroz said. "What we are trying to determine is the motive."


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