Reporter Bravo, who was covering a dispute over recent elections, was killed outside an electoral office in the city of Juigalpa, capital of central Chontales Department.
The 26-year-old Bravo, a correspondent for the Managua daily La Prensa in Chontales, had just exited the Juigalpa vote-counting center and was talking to several people when she was shot once at close range at around 6:30 p.m., La Prensa reported. She was taken to a hospital in Juigalpa but was declared dead on arrival.
Bravo was covering protests by supporters of the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), which has a majority in the National Assembly, and supporters of the Alliance for the Republic (APRE) coalition, which backs President Enrique Bolaños Geyer. Both sides were challenging the results of the November 7 elections in two municipalities.
On the evening of her murder, police detained Eugenio Hernández González, a former PLC mayor of the town of El Ayote, and identified him as the main suspect in Bravo's death, according to La Prensa newspaper. Police took a .38-caliber handgun from Hernández. Some witnesses interviewed by La Prensa claimed to have seen Hernández reach for a handgun just before Bravo was shot.
After the results of the November 7 elections were announced confirming a major victory for the opposition Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) and a significant defeat for the PLC, several incidents of political violence occurred throughout Nicaragua.
A judge found a local politician guilty in the November 2004 murder of journalist María José Bravo. Eugenio Hernández González, convicted on January 26, 2005, was later sentenced to 25 years in prison. Bravo, a correspondent for the Managua daily La Prensa, was covering an electoral dispute in the city of Juigalpa. She had just left a local vote-counting center and was talking to several people when she was shot once at close range. Police arrested Hernández González, ex-mayor of the town of El Ayote, later that night.