Death On The Border

Credit: Edin Pasovic / OCCRP

Seven months ago, three employees of the Ecuadorian newspaper El Comercio were abducted in the Mataje River region on the border between Ecuador and Colombia. After almost three weeks in captivity, reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas, and their driver, Efrain Segarra, were executed by the Oliver Sinisterra Front, a group of former FARC guerillas and drug traffickers who operate in this lawless jungle. The murders punctuated a season of escalating violence, the likes of which Ecuador hasn’t seen in decades.

The official version of events remains full of inconsistencies, and the victims’ families are still waiting for answers. Why was a government representative dispatched to the border to await the journalists’ release, only to return empty-handed? Why was the El Comercio staff permitted in the area after El Guacho, the guerilla leader, had openly threatened civilians? The police could hardly feign ignorance: They had a secret communications channel with the rebels, and the transcripts clearly show their intentions.

An international team of more than 20 reporters, photojournalists, and videographers worked for four months to investigate the abduction and murder of their Ecuadorian colleagues, as well as to continue their reporting. Six organizations collaborated with OCCRP on the project: Fundacion para la Libertad de la Prensa (FLIP, Colombia), La Liga Contra El Silencio (Colombia), Periodistas sin Cadenas (Ecuador), Fundamedios (Ecuador), Verdad Abierta (Colombia), and Forbidden Stories (France).

Stories

Tracing Their Last Journey

The kidnapping and murder of Ecuadorian reporter Javier Ortega, photographer Paul Rivas, and their driver Efrain Segarra in Colombia seven months ago still haunt their families. This is the story of their last reporting trip, their kidnapping and execution, and the government response that left their loved ones still searching for answers.

Read the article

Timeline

CREDITS

OCCRP: Birgit Brauer, Daniela Castro, Maxim Edwards, Olena Goncharova, Adem Kurić, Ilya Lozovsky, Sharon L. Lynch, Nathan Jaccard, Ivana Jeremic, Jody McPhillips, Edin Pašović, Bojana Pavlovic, Paul Radu, Stella Roque, Michał "Rysiek" Woźniak

Forbidden Stories: Jules Giraudat, Rémi Labed

Verdad Abierta: Juan Diego Restrepo, María Flórez, Ricardo Cruz

Fundación Para la Libertad de Prensa: Jonathan Bock, Julián García, Sebastián Salamanca

Liga Contra el Silencio: Jeanneth Valdivieso, Sinar Alvarado

Fundamedios

Periodistas Sin Cadenas: José María León, Isabela Ponce, Diego Cazar, Soraya Constante, Sol Borja, Susana Morán, Estefanía Celi, Ángela Meléndez, Edu León

To ensure their safety, some reporters’ names are not revealed.

This series was made possible by the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, a partnership between OCCRP and Transparency International. For more information, click here.

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