Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Court jails killer of slain Filipino journalist

MANILA, Philippines (Reuters) - A Philippine court found an unemployed man guilty on Wednesday for the 2006 killing of a radio commentator on the southern island of Mindanao, sending him to jail for 17 years.

It was only the sixth conviction among more than 100 cases of murders of Filipino journalists since 1986, a local media group said.

"We are thankful to the government prosecutors for making sure justice would be served," Maximo Solis, an official of the local broadcasters' association, told reporters. "But we want to know why our colleague was killed and who wanted him dead."

Radio broadcaster Armando Pace, known for his critical commentaries on local politicians, was shot in the head and chest as he was riding home from work in July 2006 in southern Digos City.

One of the two gunmen linked to the crime, Joy Anticamara, was caught and brought to trial but denied he was near the crime scene. The court threw out his alibi after a neighbour identified him as one of the gunmen.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has listed the Philippines as among the world's most dangerous places for journalists due to many unresolved murders since 1998.

About 24 killings of Filipino journalists have remained unresolved in the last 10 years, said a CPJ report in March 2009, calling on the government to prosecute and punish those behind the murders.

The government said four people had been convicted in the last eight years and 26 others were facing charges for the murder of at least 31 Filipino journalists since 2001. But local media groups said about 78 to 100 of more than 130 journalists have been killed since 1986 and only five of those cases led to convictions. (Reuters)

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