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Mexico2 November 2005

Chiapas police release El Orbe editor after holding him for 12 hours

Enrique Zamora Cruz, the editor of the Chiapas-based newspaper El Orbe, was finally released at around 3 a.m. on 28 October, after being held incommunicado for 12 hours.

He was only notified of the charges against him at around 11 p.m. on 27 October, nine hours after he was arrested. He was interrogated for nearly 11 hours about this intentions towards Chiapas state governor Pablo Salazar Mendiguchía.

The police repeatedly questioned him about an El Orbe article headlined “Pablo for how much longer,” that questioned the use of resources from a Natural Disaster Fund. They asked him what interest he had in discrediting the governor, whether he was trying to stir up an uprising against the governor by the people of Chiapas, and whether he was trying to eliminate the governor. He was filmed throughout the interrogation.

The Chiapas bar association has meanwhile filed a formal request with the federal parliament calling for Salazar to be tried for abuse of authority.

28.10.05 - Chiapas state authorities harass regional daily over hurricane relief coverage

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest of Enrique Zamora Cruz, the editor of the regional daily El Orbe, on a libel charge yesterday in Tapachula, in the southern state of Chiapas, as well as attempts to intimidate two of his reporters, Alvaro Islas Hernández and Roberto Corado Mosqueda, and his editorial writer, Ángel Mario Ksheratto.

“We demand that Zamora get a fair trial,” the press freedom organisation said, regretting that the Chiapas state authorities had decided yet again to attack the news media and that press offences are punishable by up to nine years in prison in Chiapas.

“We also call for his release while awaiting trial,” Reporters Without Borders added. “The authorities have dared to say he has not been detained and is simply being questioned, but he has already spent a night in the prosecutor’s office.”

Zamora was arrested yesterday by two officials from the Chiapas state prosecutor’s office and was taken to its “coastal zone” branch for questioning. The Chiapas state government’s spokesman later issued a statement saying Zamora was being questioned in connection with a libel complaint brought by the state government.

A report in El Orbe today said the complaint stemmed from its coverage of local government mistreatment of Hurricane Stan victims and the alleged embezzlement by public health officials of funds earmarked for the victims, as well as its demands that mayor Ángel Barrios Zea should be investigated.

Islas and Corado were arrested by state investigators a few hours after Zamora’s arrest. The investigators searched their cars and questioned them before letting them go.

Ksheratto, who also writes columns for the daily Cuarto Poder, was detained on 12 October and then released without any explanation after two hours. He was previously arrested on 9 January 2003 on a libel charge and is currently free on bail after paying a fine of 63,000 pesos (4,700 euros).

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