Brazil has extradited a Paraguayan former mayor accused of murdering a journalist, in a case that will test Paraguay’s justice system and the power of its media.
Brazilian authorities handed Vilmar “Neneco” Acosta Marques over to their counterparts in Paraguay, where he is accused of orchestrating the murder of local journalist Pablo Medina and a young woman, reported Reuters.
Neneco fled to Brazil in 2014 after being accused of the murders and was arrested by Brazilian authorities in March. The former mayor is suspected of killing Medina in retaliation for linking Neneco and his family to marijuana production and cocaine trafficking as well as other homicides, Medina’s former employer ABC Color reported.
Authorities are also seeking Neneco’s brother and nephew as suspects, according to Reuters.
Medina’s murder is credited for drawing attention to Paraguay latest narco-political scandal, which has highlighted organized crime’s deep infiltration into Paraguayan politics.
InSight Crime Analysis
Given the state of Paraguayan politics and justice, Neneco’s extradition does not guarantee a successful conviction. It will, however, provide an important test for the nation’s justice system and its media.
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According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least three journalists were killed in Paraguay in 2014, with another Paraguayan radio journalist killed just across the border in Brazil in March 2015. All four had been reporting on drug trafficking and corrupt officials. None of their cases have yet resulted in covictions.
Speaking on Medina’s case, Paraguay’s Prosecutor General said, “More than a simple homicide, this crime was a message, and because of this it’s necessary to reaffirm the promise of justice.”
However, Neneco is suspected of being protected by powerful elites, and may yet be able to use these connections to affect the outcome of his case.
On the other hand, Medina’s case has received much attention, thanks largely in part to his former employer ABC Color. If Neneco is given a fair and efficient trial, this would set an important precedent for holding powerful criminals accountable and attest to the Paraguayan media’s power to shine a spotlight on corruption.
ABC Color’s video coverage of Neneco’s extradition