Venezuelan political journalist murdered

CARACAS Wed May 18, 2011 9:32pm EDT

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CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan police found the murdered body of a newspaper columnist and opposition political activist dumped on wasteland, prosecutors said on Wednesday.

Wilfred Ojeda, 56, wrote a column for the El Clarin newspaper in the town of La Victoria and was a long-time activist for the Democratic Action political party that opposes President Hugo Chavez.

Chavez has been criticized for creating a highly polarized media climate in Venezuela and for pressuring opposition media to be more balanced. But while harassment by the police is common, serious violence against journalists and politicians is rarer than in neighboring Colombia or in Mexico.

As in those countries, violence against journalists has in the past been linked to drug traffickers. Venezuela's top suspected cocaine kingpin, Walid Makled, is awaiting trial, charged with the murder of a reporter.

Ojeda had a hood placed over his head, was beaten and showed signs of torture, prosecutors said. He was killed by single a bullet to the head.

(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; editing by Todd Eastham)

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