Peru judges face disciplinary action for trial of slain journalist

Peru’s judicial disciplinary office, OCMA, began procedures against four judges from Ucayali’s Superior Court for irregularities during the murder trial of Luis Valdez Villacorta, the mayor of Coronel Portillo province. On Nov. 14 the judges acquitted Valdez of charges that he ordered the 2004 murder of radio commentator Alberto Rivera Fernández.

Superior Court judges Miriam Calmet Caynero, Juana Estela Tejada Segur, Leoncio Felipe Huamaní Mendoza and Pablo Ernest Lévano Veliz are under investigation for violating due process procedures.

The judges are also accused of violating article 266 of the Penal Code Procedures by holding nine sessions solely dedicated to the interrogation of witnesses.

Rivera was a regular critic of Valdez. On Apr. 20, 2004 Rivera told Agencia Peru that Valdez had well-known ties to drug traffickers. The following day Rivera was gunned down by hit men, allegedly on the orders of Valdez and ex-Judge Solio Ramírez Garay.

Attacks on journalists are common in Peru. According to the National Association of Journalists in Peru, ANP, there were 154 threats against journalists in 2006. Since 2004 three journalists have been murdered. ANP says the majority of the attacks were attributed to intolerance of public officials who were criticized by the journalists.

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