Byron Baldeón, a local freelance photojournalist for Ecuadorian daily newspaper Extra was fatally shot on July 1 on his way home, 61 kilometers from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Eyewitnesses said Baldeon was shot nine times at close range by two unidentified men on motorcycles, according to a statement from Ecuadorian press freedom group Fundamedios.
Baldeon and his managing editor Juan Manuel Yepez had been subpoenaed by prosecutors in connection with a photograph taken on May 14 in El Triunfo of the theft of a truck full of LED television sets. Five persons were arrested in connection with an investigation into the stolen TVs, including three active police officers and two citizens.
In a statement to the Spanish news agency, EFE, on June 2, Yepez could not confirm that Baldeón’s killing was in relation to his photographs: “It would be speculating for me to venture to say it was because of that, and I couldn’t say that,” Yepez told EFE.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of Byron Baldeón,“ said IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie. “His work was instrumental in highlighting alleged police corruption in the area.
“Our deepest condolences go out to his family and colleagues,” Bethel McKenzie added.
IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said: “We urge the authorities to carry out a full investigation into the killing, and to hold the perpetrators to account. Failure to do so would encourage a climate of impunity.”
According to Ecuadorian newspaper, Hoy, Ecuador’s Interior Minister, José Serrano, has said that an investigation will be launched to investigate the murder.