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Mexico23 January 2006

Sonora governor asked to intervene in case of police violence against journalist

Mr. Eduardo Bours Castelo
Governor of the State of Sonora

Dear Mr. Governor,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, has been outraged to learn of a case of police brutality against Julio César Ortega Quiroz, the editor of the magazine La Neta Times and a contributor to Radio Palacio, on 14 January in Caborca, in the northwestern state of Sonora.

As governor, it is your duty to ensure that civil liberties are respected in your state. It is absolutely unacceptable for a police chief to overstep his authority in order to settle a personal score with the press. We hope that, in addition to the criminal prosecutions that have been initiated against Police Chief Jésus Alberto Padilla Varela and his subordinates, you will take the appropriate administrative sanctions and that the mayor of Caborca, Héctor Cáñez Ríos, who is suspected of protecting these police officers, will account publicly for his actions.

On 14 January, Ortega was driving in his car in Caborca when he was stopped at a crossroads at about 11:30 p.m. by a patrol car with Police Chief Padilla and other police officers aboard. They made Ortega get out of his car and hit him. They said it was a routine check

Ortega objected to what he called an “abuse of authority.” Padilla reportedly replied: “And isn’t what you say about me in your newspaper and on the radio an abuse of authority?” He ordered his men to hit Ortega with glass objects, Ortega said. Ortega was then taken to the police station where Padilla threatened him again.

Ortega attributes this physical attack to his frequent allegations of collusion between the Caborca city administration and certain members of the municipal police in connection with drug trafficking. He says he has been a target of reprisals by the local police since 1990.

Suffering from bruising to the face and chest, Ortega has taken refuge with his family in Hermosilla, the capital of Sonora state, where he has filed a complaint with the state judicial authorities.

We hope this terrible incident will not remain unpunished and that you will ensure that Ortega is protected.


Robert Ménard

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