Venezuela - In "victory for impunity," court acquits alleged drug baron of journalist's murder



    MONTREAL, Sept. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders calls for a
review of the trial of alleged regional drug baron Ceferino Garcia, who was
acquitted by a court in Maturin, in the northeastern state of Monagas, on
28 August of masterminding the murder of Mauro Marcano. A radio and newspaper
journalist, Marcano was gunned down outside his Maturin home on 1 September
2004.
    "This verdict is a victory for impunity over justice and highlights the
ability of drug traffickers to obtain protection from local officials,"
Reporters Without Borders said. "It will enable wrongdoers to continue sowing
terror without fear of prosecution. We urge the judicial authorities not to
yield to pressure and intimidation and to continue their investigation, so
that Marcano's murder does not remain unpunished."
    Arrested with false papers in nearby Trinidad and Tobago in 2006, Garcia
was brought back to Venezuela and charged with Marcano's murder. At the end of
a trial consisting of 11 hearings, a jury found on 28 August that there was
not enough evidence to link Garcia to the murder and acquitted him.
    The judge in charge of the case, Larry Siluera, nonetheless thought there
had been enough evidence to convict Garcia, pointing out that Marcano had
accused Garcia in newspaper articles of heading a drug gang known as the
Cartel del Sol.
    Marcano hosted a programme on Radio Maturin 1080 AM and was a columnist
for El Oriental, a local daily. His daughter, Yasira Marcano, voiced outrage
after Garcia's acquittal. "It seems the verdict was decided in advance," she
said. "During the final hearing, Garcia was complaining that it had not yet
been issued. He already knew what the verdict would be."
    Former vice-president José Vicente Rangel, a columnist with the Ultimas
Noticias daily, described the verdict as "Marcano's second death." Reporters
Without Borders shares his disappointment and reiterates its solidarity with
the Marcano family.




For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4188, Fax: (514)
521-7771, rsfcanada@rsf.org

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