ASUNCION – The trial of a former mayor accused of masterminding the murder of two journalists in 2014 convened on Tuesday in Paraguay’s lower house of Congress to hear testimony from a lawmaker.
Defendant Vilmar Acosta was transported to the chamber at first light amid tight security.
The prosecution contends that while mayor of the western town of Ypehu, Acosta ordered the Oct. 16, 2014, killings of Pablo Medina and Antonia Almada.
As Asuncion daily ABC Color’s correspondent in the Canindeyu province, which borders Brazil, Medina became known for investigative stories about links between drug traffickers and politicians in the marijuana-growing region.
Cristina Villalba, who now represents Canindeyu in the lower house, was called last week to testify about a telephone conversation she had with Acosta while he was on the run following the double-murder.
But Villalba invoked her parliamentary privilege and insisted that her testimony be taken within the halls of Congress.
Tuesday’s session took place in a congressional office and journalists followed the proceedings from the press room via an audio link.
Villalba told the judge that Acosta telephoned her a few days after the crime.
The lawmaker recounted that she urged Acosta to turn himself in and insisted that her only relationship with the then-mayor was political, prosecutor Sandra Quiñonez said after the testimony.
Acosta and Villalba both belong to Paraguay’s governing Colorado Party.
The former mayor’s brother, Wilson Acosta, and nephew, Flavio Acosta, are charged with carrying out the killings. While Wilson Acosta remains at large, Flavio is in custody in Brazil pending extradition.
Medina is among 17 reporters slain in Paraguay since 1991, according to the journalists union.