March 7, 2004, in Port-au-Prince, HaitiOrtega, 37, correspondent for the Spanish television station Antena 3, was shot twice in the chest when gunmen opened fire on demonstrators in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince. The demonstrators were calling for the prosecution of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Ortega was taken to Canapé Vert Hospital in Port-au-Prince, where he died an hour later.
According to international press reports, the crowd was dispersing when shots were fired from different directions on the central Champs de Mars plaza. When gunfire erupted, a group of journalists and demonstrators took refuge in the courtyard of a nearby house. Gunmen standing on the roof or on a balcony fired into the courtyard, the Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald reported.
Witnesses said they saw Aristide supporters start the shooting, according to The Associated Press. Four Haitians were killed, and dozens were injured during the incident.
After conducting its own investigation and interviewing witnesses in Haiti, Antena 3 aired an October 27 special report that concluded the fatal bullet could have come from the U.S. military. A U.S. embassy official disputed the assertion in an interview with Antena 3. A Marine Corps spokesman did not immediately respond to inquiries from CPJ seeking comment.
Ortega began his career working for the Spanish news agency EFE in Moscow. As a correspondent for Antena 3, he covered armed conflicts in Chechnya, Sarajevo, and Afghanistan. Ortega also covered the September 11 attacks in New York City, his last posting as a correspondent. He was on a leave of absence in New York when he offered to cover the Haiti crisis for Antena 3.
Job: Broadcast Reporter
Beats Covered: Human Rights
Local or Foreign: Local
Type of Death: Dangerous Assignment
Suspected Source of Fire: Political Group
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