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Mexico11 July 2007

TV Azteca gives up hope of finding two journalists who went missing two months ago

Alfonso Teja, TV Azteca’s news director in Monterrey (in the northern state of Nuevo León), said yesterday he has “given up hope” that two employees who went missing on 10 May, reporter Gamaliel López and cameraman Gerardo Paredes, will be found alive.

“The state attorney general’s office has told us the anti-kidnapping unit that was investigating their disappearance has abandoned the case,” Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying. “We have received no message from the journalists and the police have told us they have no clue as to where they might be.”

Asked if he thought organised crime was behind their abduction, Teja acknowledged that López had “ventured into sensitive territory.”

Reporters Without Borders urges the authorities to continue the investigation.

15.05.07 - TV reporter and cameraman missing for past five days in Monterrey

Reporters Without Borders today said it feared the worst after the disappearance of TV Azteca Noroeste reporter Gamaliel López Candanosa and cameraman Gerardo Paredes Pérez on 10 May in Monterrey, in the northeastern state of Nuevo León, and called on the authorities to step up the search for the two journalists.

“This brings the number of journalists who have gone missing since 2003 without being found to seven,” the press freedom organisation said. “Saúl Martínez Ortega, a journalist who disappeared on 16 April in the state of Sonora, was found murdered nine days later. So we have ever reason to fear the worst, especially as Nuevo León is particularly exposed to organised crime and drug trafficking. We appeal to the local and federal authorities to work together to find López and Paredes quickly.”

The last time the two journalists checked in with their TV station was at about 4 p.m. on 10 May, after covering the birth of conjoined twins in a Monterrey hospital. The TV station vehicle they were using has not been found. The Nuevo León state police “anti-kidnapping” unit was asked to investigate after their disappearance was reported on the evening of 13 May, the Monterrey prosecutor’s office said.

López has worked for TV Azteca Noroeste for 11 years. The station’s management told Reporters Without Borders that “for six months he covered the army’s presence in the region because of the violence.”

The Milenio daily newspaper said López had profiled alleged murderers in June 2006 and covered two messages left by a drug trafficker. The station’s management also told Reporters Without Borders he has a regular slot in which he takes issue with the practices of certain public officials.

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