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Mexico17 October 2006

Journalist’s supposed killers confess in dubious video sent to TV station

Reporters Without Borders has viewed a video that was sent anonymously to TV Azteca on 12 October that shows two naked men who have clearly been tortured and who are alleged to be the perpetrators of the 9 August murder of journalist Enrique Perea Quintanilla.

Questioned by a man who does not appear on screen, they identify themselves as Leopoldo Rodríguez García and Armando Duarte Escobedo, and say they were ordered to kill Perea by three drug traffickers who they name as Gonzalo García (one of the leaders of the Juárez Cartel, based in the northern state of Chihuahua), Pedro Sánchez and “JL.”

The website, which posted the video online, reported that deputy prosecutor Eduardo Gómez is alleged to have protected certain drug traffickers and has been moved to another post. The day after it was broadcast, the Chihuahua state prosecutor’s office asked TV Azteca to hand over the video.

Reporters Without Borders calls on the authorities to verify the claims made on the video and, as a matter of principle, condemns this kind of parallel “justice.”

11.08.2006 - Crime magazine editor shot dead in Chihuahua

Reporters Without Borders voiced outrage today at the murder of Enrique Perea Quintanilla (photo), a journalist based in the northern city of Chihuahua, whose body was found yesterday at a roadside 15 km south of the city with gunshot wounds to the head and chest. He was the founder and editor of Dos Caras, Una Verdad (Two Faces, One Truth), a monthly covering unsolved murders and drug trafficking.

“We are deeply shocked by this murder, and disturbed about the impact it will have on investigative journalism in northern Mexico,” the press freedom organisation said. “We point out that, as a signatory of the Declaration of Chapultepec, Mexico is required to carry out a prompt investigation and to put a stop to the climate of impunity for attacks against the press.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We insist that investigators with the special prosecutor’s office that was set up in February should give priority to the possibility that Perea’s murder was linked to his work as a journalist. Everything must be done to establish the circumstances of this killing and punish those responsible.”

Aside from the two gunshot wounds, Perea’s body bore the marks of torture. His car was found abandoned in the centre of Chihuahua. His two sons had reported his disappearance a few hours before his body was discovered.

Aged 50, Perea was known for his coverage of police investigations. Before founding his own magazine in 2005, he had spent 20 years as a crime reporter for two local newspapers, El Heraldo de Chihuahua and El Diario de Chihuahua. He had recently written about corruption in the Chihuahua state government and the large number of unsolved crimes. He had reported being harassed by the local government because of his revelations.

The Chihuahua prosecutor’s office said it suspected organised crime was behind Perea’s murder but had not yet established the motive. It is not yet working on the assumption that it was linked to his work.

Ten journalist have been killed in Mexico in the past two years, mainly in the northern region adjoining the United States where the drug cartels operate. No one has been arrested or tried for ordering any of these murders. Because of the entrenched impunity, the investigations should not be left in the hands of the local authorities.

In February, President Vicente Fox appointed lawyer David Vega Vera as a special prosecutor with the task of investigating the murders of journalists. Nonetheless, the intimidation and violence has continued, fostering growing self-censorship in the coverage of crime, corruption and drug trafficking.

In addition to the 10 journalists who have been murdered, two others are missing. They are Alfredo Jiménez Mota of the newspaper El Imparcial, who disappeared in April 2005, and Rafael Ortiz Martínez of the Zócalo de Monclova, who disappeared in July of this year.

After a fact-finding visit to northern Mexico, Reporters Without Borders issued a report on this subject on 21 June 2005:

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

in the annual report
Mexico - Annual Report 2008
Mexico - Annual report 2007
Mexico - Annual report 2006

14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence
15 May - Colombia
Former intelligence officials leak list of news media and journalists whose phones were tapped

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