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Mexico11 October 2008

Michoacán newspaper editor kidnapped and killed

Reporters Without Borders is appalled by the abduction and murder of Miguel Angel Villa Gómez Valle, the editor of Noticias de Michoacán, a daily newspaper based in Lázaro Cárdenas, in the southwestern state of Michoacán. Villa Gómez’s bullet-riddled body was found yesterday morning in a refuse dump, less than 12 hours after he went missing.

“The list of kidnappings and execution-style killings of journalists continues to grow longer in areas of Mexico where organised crime is well-established,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Our thoughts go out to the victim’s family and colleagues, whose grief will only be compounded if this murder goes unpunished.

The press freedom organisation added: “It is vital that the special prosecutor’s office for crimes of violence against journalists should have an immediate say in this investigation.”

The police found Villa Gómez’s body in a road-side refuse dump about 50 km outside Lázaro Cárdenas. He had been shot twice in the stomach and once in the head. Relatives told Agence France-Presse that he left his office at about 10 p.m. on 9 October with the intention of going home. He had not mentioned getting any threats. His newspaper is a regional tabloid that often carries stories linked to corruption, organised crime and drug trafficking.

Abductions, disappearances and murders of journalists are common in this part of Mexico.  Mauricio Estrada Zamora of the regional daily La Opinión de Apatzingán has been missing since 12 February. Gerardo Israel García Pimentel of the daily La Opinión de Michoacán was gunned down on 8 December 2007 in Uruapan.

José Antonio García Apac, the editor of the weekly Ecos de la Cuenca, was last seen on 20 November 2006 near Tepalcatepec, as he was about to set off for his home in Morelia, the capital of Michoacán. The police investigation into his disappearance drew a blank. Freelance photographer Jaime Arturo Olvera Bravo, a former employee of La Voz de Michoacán, was killed on 9 March 2006 in La Piedad.

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