Arrest made in Salvador murder of French filmmaker

5th September 2009, Comments 0 comments

Police have arrested a member of the feared Mara 18 gang in the killing of Franco-Spanish journalist Christian Poveda whose film on gangs was to debut this month, sources close to the probe said Friday.

San Salvador - Police have arrested a member of the feared Mara 18 gang in the killing of Franco-Spanish journalist Christian Poveda whose film on gangs was to debut this month, sources close to the probe said Friday.

The arrest was made Thursday near the area where Poveda was killed on Wednesday just outside the capital.

Poveda was gunned down just weeks before the release of his latest documentary on violent drug gangs that blight the country. He had been filming in La Campanera, a suburb of El Salvador's capital where gangs known as "maras" fight for criminal turf.

"The investigation is under way. We cannot give details on it for obvious reasons but we do believe that gangs could be behind the death of Mr Poveda," acting Attorney General Astor Escalante told reporters.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) meanwhile condemned the killing, and called on Salvador officials to investigate the case promptly and prosecute those responsible.

The ISACHR's Office of the Special Rapporteur said in a statement that it fears Poveda’s murder may have "a chilling effect" on freedom of expression.

The ISACHR added that it called on Salvador to "adopt all urgent measures needed to guarantee the life and the integrity of those journalists who are at risk."

Born in France to a family of Spanish origin, Poveda covered El Salvador's 1980-1992 civil war and moved here permanently in 2003. He was married to a Salvadoran woman.

"La Vida Loca," his film about the Mara 18 gang, whose heavily-tattooed members engage in drug trafficking and extortion, is set for release in Europe on 30 September.

According to some local media reports he broached the topic of M 18 members leaving their lives of crime in the new documentary.

"The most probable thing is that he was the victim of one of the gangs he was investigating, a murky underworld that even the local authorities have no handle on," said Jean-Francois Julliard, head of Reporters Without Borders.

El Salvador's President Mauricio Funes, a former journalist who knew Poveda, said he was "dismayed" by the death, which he "strongly condemned."

Poveda's other documentaries have been broadcast around the world and featured at film festivals.

AFP / Expatica

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