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Mexico7 February 2008

Correspondent on El Diario de México shot dead for unknown motives

Reporters Without Borders said today it was horrified by the murder of Francisco Ortiz Monroy, correspondent for the national daily el Diario de México in Ciudad Camargo, Tamaulipas state in the north-east.

The worldwide press freedom organisation said the exact circumstances of the 5 February killing remained unclear and appealed to the authorities to swiftly determine if it was linked to his work and to ensure his murder did not go unpunished.

Ortiz Monroy, 48, was gunned down as he was leaving municipal offices in Ciudad Camargo. According to a version reported by the local press, several armed men got out of a car and opened fire on the journalist who ran and took refuge in a nearby house. His assailants then pursued him and shot him dead. Ortiz Monroy’s body was reportedly found on a bed with eight gun shot wounds.

In another account, the journalist was killed during a clash between soldiers and armed men - a version considered to be less likely that the first. His identity was only confirmed by his paper late in the evening, around ten hours after the incident, even though he was carrying an ID issued by the paper.

Abel Magaña, a deputy editor for El Diario de México, told Reporters Without Borders that the journalist had been covering Tamaulipas state for the Mexico City-based daily for more than one year. “He sent news to us from time to time, that is general official news, which had nothing to do with drug-trafficking”, he said. This is confirmed by the victim’s most recent by-lined articles dated 1st and 2nd January 2008.

“There are a number of grey areas surrounding this killing. There is nothing to show that Francisco Ortiz Monroy was targeted because of his work as a journalist. Nevertheless it should be remembered that Tamaulipas is a major channel for drug-trafficking, one of the most dangerous places in the country, where many journalists have been killed”, said Reporters Without Borders. “We hope that the investigation will allow the murderers of Ortiz Monroy to be caught and punished and to conclude whether his work as a journalist was fatal to him.”

Tamaulipas state is one of Mexico’s biggest crime hot spots, mired in drug trafficking and illegal immigration to the United States, which it borders. The paper said that the journalist also worked for the customs. El Diario de México has not managed to obtain any further information from the investigators or any response from the murdered journalist’s family and friends.

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