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Mexico28 November 2005

Commission says investigation into journalist’s disappearance was “botched”

The resources deployed by the local, regional and federal authorities to investigate the disappearance of reporter Alfredo Jiménez Mota of the daily El Imparcial were totally inadequate, said Israel González Pérez, the head of the office of the National Human Rights Commission that concerns itself with attacks against journalists.

Investigators never got a significant lead and failed to find any trace of Jiménez, who disappeared on 2 April, although President Vicente Fox said on 19 April that the federal authorities would participate in the investigation.

12.05.05 - Former policeman denies any role in Alfredo Jiménez Mota’s disappearance

In an interview on 9 May for Río Doce, a weekly newspaper based in Culiacán (the capital of the northwestern state of Sinaloa), former local police chief Reynaldo Zamora denied a report that he threatened journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota two years before Jiménez’s disappearance on 2 April in nearby Hermosillo.

Rio Doce reported in January 2004 that Jiménez, who then worked for the Culiacán-based daily El Debate, was threatened after reporting that Zamora was seen at the site of a traffic accident involving a drug baron’s son (thereby suggesting Zamora was linked to drug trafficking). A furious Zamora allegedly went to the offices of Jiménez’s newspaper and threatened him there.

Zamora, who has since left the police force, is now clearly afraid, Río Doce said. He was very nervous during the interview and refused to let it be recorded. He nonetheless said he was ready to make a statement to the federal department of justice if summoned.

20.04.05 - President promises federal help for investigation into journalist’s disappearance

Presidente Vicente Fox yesterday said federal investigators will participate in the investigation into the disappearance of journalist Alfredo Jiménez Mota, who went missing on April 2 in the northwestern city of Hermosillo. During a meeting with the journalist’s father, Alfredo Jiménez Martínez, the president said, "there has to be justice and we have to be efficient, and for this, I offer all my support."

14.04.05 - Missing journalist felt threatened, says mother

Alfredo Jiménez Mota, the El Imparcial journalist who disappeared on 2 April in the Hermosillo region (in the northwestern state of Sonora) felt threatened, his mother, Esperanza Mota Martínez, has told the daily El Universal. She said that a week before he went missing, he spotted three suspicious-looking men "with military-style shaved heads" waiting for him outside his home. As a result, he turned round and drove away. He notified the municipal police who, according to his mother, "treated him as paranoid" and refused to take any action. He also mentioned the incident to his editors, who paid no attention either.

08.04.05-Crime reporter missing in northwestern Sonora state

Reporters Without Borders voiced great concern today about the disappearance of reporter Alfredo Jiménez Mota of the daily El Imparcial in Hermosillo (in the northwestern state of Sonora), who has not been seen since 2 April.

"We cannot unfortunately rule out the possibility of kidnapping or, worse still, murder," the press freedom organization said.

"Northern Mexico is a very dangerous area for journalists, especially those covering the extremely sensitive subject of drug trafficking, and we appeal to the Sonora state prosecutor’s office to deploy all possible resources in an attempt to find Alfredo Jiménez Mota," Reporters Without Borders said.

The organization also called on the authorities in the state of Sonora to guarantee press freedom and the safety of journalists.

Staff at El Imparcial said Jiménez phoned a colleague at around 9 p.m. on 2 April to say he had to go and meet one of his contacts, who was "very nervous." He said the meeting would not last more than a few minutes, after which he would join his colleague. That was the last anyone has heard of him.

Before joining El Imparcial, Jiménez worked for the El Debate and Noroeste TV stations in the neighbouring state of Sinaloa. He specializes in covering crime and drug trafficking. "His work exposed him to every kind of possible reprisal," a very anxious colleague at El Imparcial told Reporters Without Borders.

Public prosecutor Abel Murrieta Gutiérrez, who is in charge of the case, immediately linked his disappearance to his reporting on crime and drug trafficking. Nothing was disturbed or stolen from his apartment, where his equipment and files were found intact.


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