SAN SALVADOR — Four suspects, including a policeman, have been arrested over Franco-Spanish journalist Christian Poveda's murder in El Salvador, police said, indicating the killing was ordered by a jailed gang member.
"After an investigation, four people have been detained for involvement in the murder of Mr Poveda," assistant police director Mauricio Ramirez said.
Police described the four as a policeman and three members of Mara 18, the violent gang which Poveda meticulously chronicled for his 2008 film "La Vida Loca," about the heavily-tattooed gangsters who engaged in drug trafficking and extortion.
The film had already been released but was set for a wider European distribution on September 30.
Police and the prosecutor's office said Poveda's murder last week has been ordered by Nelson Lazo Rivera, an imprisoned member of the same Mara 18 gang who ordered the hit because he believed Poveda was a police informant.
Poveda, 54, was found dead near his vehicle on a road north of the capital San Salvador on September 2. He had been shot in the face four times.
Ramirez identified those arrested as policeman Juan Napoleon Espinoza, and Mara 18 gang members Calixto Rigoberto Escobar, Jose Alejandro Melara and Roberto Luis Romero.
Authorities were quick to reject claims that Poveda was providing information to police.
Deputy director of police investigations Howard Cotto said arrested police officer Espinoza had "ties" with Mara 18 and had communicated "falsely and erroneously" to gang members that Poveda was a police informant.
"This agent (Espinoza) told the gang members that Mr Poveda submitted information to the police, because he had seen what they did, that they had weapons, and where they got them. But we must sharply reject the version because Mr Poveda never gave information to the police," Cotto told reporters.
Lazo Rivera had ordered his fellow gang members to investigate the filmmaker and gave the green light to kill him if they confirmed he was an informant, authorities said.