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Immunity lifted for Guatemala lawmaker accused of journalists’ murder

November 7, 2017

A lawmaker in Guatemala accused of being behind the murder of two journalists had his parliamentary immunity lifted by the country’s supreme court on Tuesday.

The deputy, Julio Antonio Juarez Ramirez, now faces criminal justice as the alleged mastermind of the March 10, 2015 attack that killed the two reporters, Danilo Lopez of the Pensa Libre newspaper, and Marvin Tunches, who worked at a local television station.

A UN-back body fighting corruption, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, in January accused Juarez of ordering the hit on Lopez after he reported on Juarez’s tax debts.

The killing occurred in a park in Mazatenango, a town 100 kilometers (60 miles) southwest of the capital. Tunches happened to be with Lopez at the time and was killed as well.

One of the two alleged hitmen involved along with two criminal associates are in custody. The other hitman is a fugitive.

Guatemala is one of Latin America’s most violent countries, registering 6,000 murders a year.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.