LA PAZ – Five suspects were arrested over the weekend in connection with the killings in late February of journalist siblings Veronica and Victor Hugo Peñasco, Bolivian Government Minister Carlos Romero said.
The case “is practically closed” following the arrests of Juan Monrroy Dueñas, Centurion Claudio Merma Condori, Manuel Callisaya Mamani, Noemi Nina Pati and Amalia Nina Pati because the evidence against them is “conclusive,” Romero said in a press conference Sunday.
The two main suspects in the case, Felix Yupanqui and Adalid Mamani, were arrested in March.
Investigators are still trying to determine the motive for the killings, but it is presumed that the gang acted “simply with criminal ends in mind,” Romero said.
Yupanqui and Mamani were charged with the Feb. 25 stranglings of the two journalists in El Alto, a gritty industrial city near La Paz.
The two men are suspected of being the leaders of the gang that the other five suspects arrested over the weekend belonged to.
Yupanqui and Mamani were arrested by an elite police unit accompanied by television cameramen in a highly publicized and controversial operation that followed street protests to demand that President Evo Morales do more to fight crime.
Protesters demanded that Morales impose the death penalty on those convicted of murder and rape, while suspected criminals were killed in a wave of lynchings across Bolivia.
Veronica Peñasco, 36, worked for San Gabriel radio and hosted a bilingual Spanish-Aymara program on state television, while Victor Hugo, 32, was part of the staff at Pachacamasa radio.
Bolivia’s National Press Association, which represents media owners and executives, documented 46 instances of aggression toward journalists in 2011. EFE