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Mexico10 September 2004

Charred body said to be that of journalist who disappeared three months ago

The body of journalist Leodegario Aguilar Lucas has been found, prosecutor-general for Guerrero State, Jesús Ramírez Guerrero, told a press conference on 8 September. He said police had arrested three suspects whom, he said, had confessed to killing the journalist on the day he was abducted on 22 May 2004. They said they had burned the body and then buried it.

In their confessions, they said the murder followed a dispute with the victim about the ownership of land adjoining a hotel owned by the journalist.

Contacted by Reporters Without Borders, the examining magistrate Fernando Monreal Leyva, could not confirm that the remains found were those of the editor of Mundo Político magazine. DNA tests had yet to be carried out. He said three leads were currently being followed in the case of the journalist’s disappearance and none of them were linked to his professional work.

Aguilar Lucas’s sister, Ernestina Aguilera, dismissed the version of event given by the prosecutor-general. She said her brother had no connection with the alleged suspects. She was surprised to have heard the news from the press and condemned it as a move to protect those really responsible. She added that she believed her brother to be still alive and that his disappearance was linked to his work.


02.06.2004 - Journalist kidnapped, 15 others threatened, assaulted or subjected to pressure

On 22 May 2004, three unidentified persons kidnapped Leodegario Aguilar Lucas, director of "Mundo Político" magazine, from his home in Acapulco, Guerrero state, southwestern Mexico. The journalist’s family asked police not to intervene so as to allow them to negotiate his release. Some of Aguilar Lucas’s colleagues believe his kidnapping may be linked to his articles about alleged corruption involving local authorities. Aguilar Lucas is also the owner of a small hotel.

In Veracruz state, southeastern Mexico, Martin Serrano Herrera, founder and director of "Tribuna" newspaper, published in Jalapa, said he was assaulted in the street by three unidentified persons on 22 May. The journalist claimed his attackers were police officers. He believes the attack was linked to articles published in his newspaper that implicated several Veracruz public servants in corruption scandals.

On 23 May, Maximiliano Cortéz Zepeda, from Radio Variedades, and Mario Solis Espinoza and Edgar Badillo Medina, of the daily "Diario de Colima", were assaulted by a group of about 20 youths led by Samuel Rodríguez Moreno, a nephew of former Colima state governor Fernando Moreno Peña. The three journalists were chased in the streets of the state capital, Colima, and viciously beaten just as they were arriving at Cortéz Zepeda’s home. Members of Cortéz Zepeda’s family were also beaten. The attackers made reference to the three journalists’ news reports criticising the alcohol and drug problems of Rodríguez Moreno and his friends.

On 27 May, at least nine journalists in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state, northern Mexico, were contacted by an official from the Public Prosecutor’s Office, who demanded they disclose the source of news reports they published about several women’s murder cases. According to the daily "La Jornada", the Public Prosecutor’s Office official told the journalists that the publication of the news reports had undermined the murder investigations. The journalists refused to reveal their sources.

The journalists contacted included Daniel Dominguez, from Radio Cañon 800; Jacinto Segura, of the daily "El Mexicano"; Gabriel Jasso, of Canal 56 television, an affiliate of the Televisa Group; Armando Rodríguez, of the daily "El Diario"; Raúl Pérez, of Televisión Azteca; Victor Armando Rey, of the local station Canal 5; Edgar Román, of Canal 44; and Carlos Huerta and Salvador Castro, of the daily "El Norte de Juárez".

Finally, in a message received by RSF on 29 May, Francisco Guerrero Garro, director of the daily "El Clarín/Sur", published in Cuernavaca, Morelos state, south of Mexico City, reported that his newspaper has been facing steady pressure since March. At the time, "El Clarín/Sur" published reports about two Cautla police officers’ alleged involvement in a rape. The paper also implicated municipal council members in a corruption case. Guerrero Garro said Cautla Mayor Arturo Cruz has been steadily harassing the paper and its local correspondent, Margarita Ruiz. "El Clarín/Sur" has complained of the harassment before the Morelos State Human Rights Commission.



In this country
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
5 May - Mexico
Journalist at odds with local officials gunned down in Durango state
6 March - Mexico
Suspect arrested in photographer’s murder but motive vague
25 February - Mexico
Young radio reporter gunned down in Veracruz state for unclear reasons
22 January - Mexico
Self-censorship, exile or certain death : the choice faced by journalists in Ciudad Juárez

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