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JOURNALISM IN THE AMERICAS Blog

Peruvian journalist who disappeared at the end of February found murdered and dismembered



Peruvian journalist and audiovisual producer José Yactayo, who disappeared on Feb. 25, was killed and dismembered, the Peruvian National Police said on March 2 after confirming the identity of human remains found in a rural area on the outskirts of Lima.

According to General Miguel Núñez Polar, head of the Directorate of Criminal Investigation of the National Police (Dirincri), Yactayo’s (55) torso and right arm were found Feb. 27 in a sugarcane crop in Catalán – area of the province of Huaura, about three hours by car from the city of Lima. A farmer found the remains in a suitcase that had been set on fire and reported it to police, RPP Noticias reported.

The rest of his body has not yet been found, according to Panamericana. The motive for the crime is not yet known.

In his statements to various national media, Núñez Polar said that the National Police has already started a homicide investigation and that they are "well on the way to discover the perpetrators of this event."

Yactayo was last seen on Feb. 25, after friends he had met with left him a few blocks from his home in Lima around 6 p.m., newspaper Correo reported.

The Public Ministry reported from its Twitter account that it has opened an investigation to find those responsible for the crime in Yactayo. The investigation was ordered by Judge Fanny Uribe Tapahuasco, head of the 45 Provincial Criminal Prosecutor's Office of Lima.

On Feb. 28, three days after the journalist's disappearance, his mother María Ana Rodríguez filed a writ of habeas corpus with her lawyer before the 35th Criminal Court. This emergency measure would expedite the lifting of communications privacy and geolocation of the cell phone that her son carried in order to find his whereabouts, the site Panamericana reported.

According to the newspaper Correo, the cell phone of the communicator remained off during his disappearance. However, at times it would have been turned on to answer friends and family who, worried about him, would write to him by Whatsapp.

His colleagues and friends in the journalism industry, like the journalist Beto Ortiz, tried to communicate with Yactayo’s cell since he disappeared. Several of them said they had obtained strange messages from the communicator's cell in response, and denied that they were written by Yactayo, Correo reported.

"I sent him a message saying 'what are you dedicated to?', a phrase we have used since Revista Dominical (the former investigative journalism program where they worked together) which means ‘what are you doing right now?' he told me 'I am studying a Masters degree at the Catholic University,'" Ortiz told the newscast 90 Central, according to Correo.

Ortiz planned to premiere the entertainment show "Érase una Vez" (Once upon a time) on channel Latina on March 4 with Yactayo as its audiovisual producer.

Meanwhile, journalist Mabel Huertas of the program Buenos Días Perú on Panamericana said that the Whatsapp messages answered from Yactayo's cell phone, through someone who would have posed as the missing journalist, would have been sent even after his death.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) expressed its dismay over Yactayo's death and asked the authorities for an exemplary investigation for the perpetrators of the brutal crime.

The organization also condemned the death of Julio Moises Mesco, another Peruvian journalist recently murdered in Ica, in the south of the country.

Mesco, 27, had been missing since Feb. 11 and his naked corpse was found on the 27th of that month, in a water catchment in Ocucaje, according to the newspaper Correo.

 



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