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Mexico17 December 2008

Special federal prosecutor rules out that community journalists were killed for their work

Reporters Without Borders today voiced astonishment at a public statement yesterday by the special federal prosecutor for dealing with attacks on the media, Octavio Alberto Orellana Wiarco, ruling out that two young women community journalists in Oaxaca State were killed because of their work.

His statement that the radio journalists of the Triqui indigenous community were shot in an attack aimed at the driver of their vehicle showed yet again the special prosecutor’s determination to play down the real dangers facing Mexican journalists while doing their job, the worldwide press freedom organisation said

“The few known facts of the investigation into the killings of Teresa Bautista Flores and Felicítas Martínez do not indeed lead to a conclusion that they were linked to their work. We should however remember that this file has since the start been in the hands of the Oaxaca judicial authorities, who have never shed light on a single one of the recent murders of journalists and have concentrated on exonerating the government of all responsibility in the case of Brad Will (see releases).

“Octavio Alberto Orellana Wiarco has endorsed the claims of an unreliable local justice official, which augurs badly for a possible elucidation of the death of the two women at a federal level”.

“It is also worrying that the special prosecutor insists on denying, on principle, that the freedom of the press is in danger in his country, when his mandate is to defend it”, the organisation concluded.

Questioned about his annual report, Orellana Wiarco replied that the two young staff on La Voz que Rompe el Silencio (The voice that breaks the silence), shot dead in Putla de Guerrero on 7 April 2008, were “collateral victims of an attack aimed at the driver of the vehicle in which they were travelling”. He automatically ruled out any motive linked to their work, prompting outrage among community radio representatives.

Jurist, David Peña, of the Network of Indigenous Community Radio stations of the Southeast, told Reporters Without Borders that there was not a single fact to support this version of events and he condemned the attitude of the prosecutor “who is only trying to limit his responsibility and to offload his duty onto the Oaxaca prosecutor general’s office”. The community association appealed to the special prosecutor to publicly retract or to produce new information to back up his conclusions.

The special prosecutor’s statements came immediately after his recent broadsides against press freedom organisations, including Reporters Without Borders, whom he accuses of putting Mexico in the ranks of the most dangerous countries for journalists on the continent, against the evidence. The organisation wrote to the special prosecutor on 11 December 2008 but has so far received no reply.

In this country
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5 May - Mexico
Journalist at odds with local officials gunned down in Durango state
6 March - Mexico
Suspect arrested in photographer’s murder but motive vague
25 February - Mexico
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22 January - Mexico
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in the annual report
Mexico - Annual Report 2008
Mexico - Annual report 2007
Mexico - Annual report 2006

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