Zara could have looked her killer in the eyes; police probe on slay of rights defender continues, NPA included in list of suspects

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BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Zara Alvarez, the rights defender hailed as a martyr by her comrades, could have looked her killer in the eyes as she held her assassin’s legs and slumped slowly to the ground more than two weeks ago in an early evening killing that took place in a residential village here.

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A junior police officer privy to the case told DNX that based on eyewitnesses police probers have interviewed, Alvarez was first shot at least twice by her killer at close range.

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The officer spoke on condition of anonymity.

She then held on with both hands on the hips of what looked like a burly man in white and slowly fell down on the street as she looked at the shooter.

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A witness interviewed by DNX a day after the murder gave a similar account.

As this developed, local police chief, Col. Henry Biñas, told DNX the probe of the special task group has yet to be completed over the slay of the 39-year-old Alvarez who was buried 26 August in the northern Negros city of Cadiz, her hometown.

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Biñas added the local police are looking at two major angles, personal grudges and work related motives, and have also included the New People’s Army as among the groups suspected to have a hand in Alvarez’ slay.

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Army officials have repeatedly linked Alvarez to the underground NPA and its political wing, the Communist Party of the Philippines, claims that Alvarez and Left-affiliated groups here have repeatedly denied.

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Alvarez was among several rights defenders and service workers authorities have charged as responsible for the 2010 killing of Archie Polenzo, an Army lieutenant who was slain in combat with NPA guerrillas in upland Cadiz City.

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