Ten people have been arrested in Honduras over the murder of kidnapped radio journalist Alfredo Villatoro, whose dead body was found on the outskirts of the capital Tegucigalpa earlier this month.
Villatoro was the 24th journalist to be killed in Honduras since a military coup ousted former President Manuel Zelaya in May 2009. According to The Guardian, five suspects – three men and two women – were arrested in the northern province of Cortes on Sunday, while weapons and two cars believed to be linked to Villatoro’s abduction on May 9 were also seized.
The move came days after three other arrests were made in connection with the murder and two prison inmates were questioned over the case. According to Fox News Latino, charges were filed against the three men arrested in Cortes after evidence emerged linking their confiscated firearms to the murder.
"We have gathered sufficient evidence, one being the discovery of the weapon used in this crime," a spokesman for the Anti-Corruption Prosecutor's Office said.
The Guardian also reports that the Honduran government has promised to draft an emergency protection plant for at-risk reporters to allow “journalists to be able to work free from threats and intimidation.”
Reporters Without Borders welcomed the arrests in a statement released this week, Honduras Weekly reports.
“We take note of the speed with which the authorities are investigating this murder, which has shaken public opinion,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The significance of such a determined police operation should not however divert attention from the need to carefully establish all the circumstances surrounding Villatoro’s murder and the role of all those involved."
The body of Villatoro, a radio presenter at the HRN station who had reported receiving death threats, was dressed in a police uniform when it was found, Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla said at the time, according to the BBC.
The journalist had been abducted near his home by a gang of young men travelling in two vehicles. His own car was later found abandoned in Tres Caminos, a residential neighborhood in Tegucigalpa, EFE reports.
Villator’s captors had reportedly contacted his family after his kidnapping to confirm they were holding him, HRN said, but gave no further details.