Questions about Slain Journalist Spark Presidential Tirade

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Police in Honduras believe they have found the dismembered remains of a disappeared journalist, prompting a media grilling on security for President Porfirio Lobo that provoked an explosive broadside against government critics.

Speaking at a press conference, Honduran Police Chief Juan Carlos “El Tigre” Bonilla said there was “compelling evidence” that remains found on the side of a lake near the town of Villanueva were those of missing journalist Anibal Barrow, although they were waiting for forensic confirmation, reported AFP.

Barrow disappeared on June 24 when his car was hijacked as he was travelling through the city of San Pedro Sula with two companions. The two were found alive nearby along with Barrow’s car, but the journalist, a TV news anchor, disappeared without a trace.

Bonilla added that the police had identified 10 suspects in the killing and had already arrested six.

After news of the discovery went public, journalists questioned Lobo on the number of journalists murdered during his term, and over his unfulfilled promises to improve security, reported El Heraldo.

The questions provoked a furious response from Lobo, who even accused his interrogators of violating his right to freedom of expression. According to Lobo, the figures showing Honduras has the highest homicide rate in the world are “a thing of the past,” as murders had dropped by 5.5 percent so far this year.

InSight Crime Analysis

Since Lobo took office, 15 journalists have been murdered, according to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ), making it the most dangerous place to practice journalism in the world. Other sources place the death count even higher. The CPJ attacked the government for its “slow and negligent” response in investigating crimes against journalists.

Lobo came to power on the back of the 2009 coup that deposed President Manuel Zelaya, and, since then, the country’s security situation has deteriorated alarmingly. The political turmoil of the coup facilitated the increased presence of drug trafficking organizations in Honduras. This, combined with the growing influence of street gangs, deeply corrupt security forces, and continuing political violence have all contributed to the spiraling violence, which the Lobo administration has proved singularly incapable of controlling. 

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