The sole suspect in the murder of a well-known journalist was released on Monday, after a judge decided that he had acted in self-defense.
Steven Ayala Murillo was acquitted for the murder of Luis Eduardo Cardozo after investigations revealed that both men were involved in a fight apparently instigated by Cardozo, according to reports by El Espectador.
Police arrested 22 year old Murillo, a workman employed by Cardozo, at the time of the attack on suspicion of murder and theft of a mobile phone.
According to Cali authorities, police were called to Cardozo’s apartment in Prada del Norte after neighbors complained about strange noises. Cardozo was found with a fractured skull and taken to a clinic in northern Cali, where he later died. Murillo offered no resistance to police when arrested, reported El Pais.
Murillo’s lawyer stated that shortly after his client arrived at the apartment to start work, the two men had an argument which culminated in Cardozo biting the young man on the arm and hitting him on the head. Murillo responded by hitting Cardozo with a porcelain ornament which served the fatal blow.
Cardozo, 65, was a well-known journalist and the first Valle del Cauca citizen to win the esteemed Simon Bolivar national award for Journalism. He had a radio career spanning 40 years working for RCN, Caracol, and Colmundo Radio. Before his death he was acting director of Toledar radio station.
Cardozo’s murder was widely publicized not only due to his respected position in the Colombian journalism world, but because it came so close on the heels of a similar homicide. Journalist Carlos Cervantes was gunned down in northern Colombia on August 12th in apparent retribution for his work reporting on local corruption.
Cervantes was killed just days before the anniversary of journalist Jaime Garzon’s murder 15 years ago. The investigation into Garzon’s murder stalled as it implicated then-government officials, and as of yet no one has been brought to justice for the crime.
Since 1992, 41 Colombian journalists have been targeted and killed in direct reprisal for their work, according to a Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) factsheet. Another 33 have been murdered, their deaths labeled “motive unconfirmed,” pending further investigation by the committee. These numbers exclude journalists who were killed in crossfire or on dangerous assignments. 56% of the slain journalists were investigating corruption.
- Periodista Luis Eduardo Cardozo fue asesinado en Cali (El Espectador)
- En libertad presunto asesino del periodista Luis Eduardo Cardozo (El Pais)
- 41 journalists murdered in Colombia since 1992 (Committe to Protect Journalists)