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Mexico20 November 2007

Family complain of lack of progress one year after editor went missing

Reporters Without Borders today joined the family of missing editor José Antonio García Apac to demand an explanation from the authorities about the complete failure of the investigation into his disappearance exactly one year ago.

The editor of the regional weekly Ecos de la Cuenca was seen for the last time on 20 November 2006, near Tepalcatepec in Michoacán State in the southwest of the country, when he was about to return to his home in the state capital Morelia.

“The disappearance of José Antonio García Apac, which could be linked to articles published in the weekly he headed, remains unexplained one year on. His wife and seven children are still waiting for news of him,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.

“Is this intolerable situation really because of a genuine absence of results in the investigation or a deliberate withholding of information on the part of the investigators? In either event, the relevant authorities have a duty to provide an explanation,” it said.

In the weeks before the editor’s disappearance, the paper carried articles about violent score-settling between local drug cartels and alleged collusion with drug traffickers on the part of the authorities, in particular with the Zetas group (ex-paramilitaries who have turned to smuggling and kidnap for ransom) José Antonio García Apac’s family is convinced that his disappearance is linked to these revelations.

His wife, Rosa Isela Caballero, told Reporters Without Borders, “I am in despair over my powerlessness in the face of investigations which go nowhere.” She said three representatives of the public ministry had been called into the investigation and that the local sub-commission of the federal justice ministry had not handed over the complete file.

Rosa Isela Caballero, who took over the editorship of the Ecos de la Cuenca after her husband went missing, sent a letter to the authorities on 30 July asking why some leads had not been followed up from the start of the investigation, in particular the existence of a secret cemetery near Tepalcatepec which the police had never visited. She never received a clear reply to her letter.

Six other journalists have gone missing in Mexico since 2000: Jesús Mejía Lechuga, of Radio MS-Noticias, on 13 July 2003 in Veracruz state, in the southeast; Rodolfo Rincón Taracena, of the daily Tabasco Hoy in the state of the same name in the southeast on 20 January 2005; Alfredo Jiménez Mota, of the daily El Imparcial, since 2 April 2005 in Hermosillo, northwest; Rafael Ortiz Martínez, contributor to the daily Zócalo and radio station XHCCG 104.1 FM, on 8 July 2006 in Coahuila state, northern Mexico; Gamaliel López and Gerardo Paredes, of TV Azteca, on 10 May 2007 in Monterrey in Nuevo León state, also in northern Mexico. None of these cases has so far been solved.

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