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Mexico13 November 2006

Editor of Guerrero state’s leading daily found murdered in motel room

Reporters Without Borders today said it was appalled by the murder of Misael Tamayo Hernández, the editor of the leading regional daily El Despertar de la Costa, who was found dead in a motel room in Ixtapa Zihuatanejo in the southern state of Guerrero on 10 November. He was the fifth journalist to be killed this year in Mexico.

“Tamayo’s death brings the number of journalists killed or missing in Mexico since the start of 2006 to seven, which confirms it as the western hemisphere’s deadliest country for the press,” the press freedom organisation said. “The initial enquiries indicate that Tamayo was killed because of his newspaper’s investigative reporting on drug trafficking.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “We call for the national prosecutor’s office specialising in attacks on the press to take over the case, and for both federal and local investigators to be given substantial resources. And they should give priority to the theory that Tamayo was killed on account of his work as a newspaper editor.”

According to the news agency Notimex, Tamayo’s body was found at around 7:30 a.m. in a motel on the outskirts of Ixtapa Zihuatanejo, on the road linking Guerrero to the neighbouring state of Michoacán. The state police told Reporters Without Borders it received an anonymous call at about 7:00 a.m. mentioning room No. 1 at the motel Venus.

The police said Tamayo’s naked body was found face down with his hands tied behind his back with a belt. There were punctures in his right forearm suggesting he was given a fatal injection. Three small packets containing a white powder resembling cocaine were found in his trouser pockets.

Motel employees said they saw him arrive at about 1:25 a.m. in a vehicle that left an hour later. Colleagues said he was due to meet with the head of security of a bus company who cannot for the moment be located. The police have taken three persons into custody - receptionist Mario Peñalosa, motel owner René Martínez Contreras and someone identified as Ivan López Flores.

Tamayo’s newspaper - the leading daily in Guerrero state - had reported three days before his murder on the explosion of two grenades in an Ixtapa Zihuatanejo neighbourhood. Tamayo wrote an editorial under his own byline on 9 November about corruption within the Zihuatanejo water authority, CAPAZ. The newspaper also covers feuding among local drug traffickers, which has been especially deadly this year.

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