Venezuelan Newspaper Vice-President Murdered

Mérida, June 3, 2008 (– Pierre Fould Gerges, the vice president of the daily Venezuelan newspaper Reporte Diario de la Economía, died Monday night after being shot more than a dozen times by a motorcyclist in a Texaco gas station in the Chuao sector of Caracas near the newspaper’s headquarters.

Tannous Gerges, the president of the newspaper and Pierre Gerges’s brother, had received death threats by email from an account named Vitulio Carmona, according Yisel Soares, a lawyer for the newspaper. Pierre Gerges was driving his brother’s grey Honda Accord at the time he was killed.

The lawyer speculated that the death threats were in retaliation for recent denunciations of corruption published by the newspaper.

Pierre Fould Gerges “has physiological characteristics very similar to the president of Reporte, which makes me presume that the murder was intended for Tannous Gerges,” Soares told Globovisión.

The 58 email and telephone death threats had been denounced to local courts in the past, and in June 2007 they were reported to the Venezuelan Scientific, Penal, Criminal, and Scientific Investigations Body (CICPC), which is now investigating Monday’s murder, Soares said.  

An editor of the newspaper, José Palmar, commented that “everything indicates that this was a hired assassination given that it was a motorcyclist who murdered Mr. Gerges with more than a dozen shots and then fled the scene.”

He continued, “12 shots is only the way of a hired assassin; they did not steal anything from him, they did not remove anything from him, there was no situation of any other nature.”

“When we arrived on the scene we observed that the car had been shot all over,” Soares told the press.

At a quarter to 11pm, five hours after the crime occurred, CICPC’s investigation of the scene had not finished. Local police officials reported that the assassins were driving a black YT150 motorcycle.

The Gerges family and the staff of the newspaper are mobilizing the justice system “in search of these wrongdoers who took the life of our co-worker,” Palmar said, adding that “Mr. Pierre was 48 years old, a close friend, worker, a media man.”