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Mexico3 February 2004

Threats against Sinaloa journalist who investigated child prostitution

Reporters Without Borders today called on the state prosecutor of the northern state of Sinaloa to do everything possible to identify those responsible for the threats of the past few months against Irene Medrano Villanueva of the Culiacán-based daily El Sol de Sinaloa.

Her home has been searched. The brakes and windscreen of her car have been damaged. Two individuals deliberately drove into her car on 13 January, although she had a police escort at the time.

Medrano has been investigating child prostitution for some time. In a report published on 6 December, she suggested that education department employees were involved in the corruption of minors and a presumed prostitution network.

On 12 January, she received several anonymous phone calls saying she was going to be murdered. Police investigators established that the calls came from the office of Culiacán mayor Jesús Enrique Hernández Chavez. The mayor appeared before judicial officials and said he was ready to assist in any investigation.

Medrano, who received further death threats in an anonymous call to her mobile phone on 22 January, said she was surprised to learn that the municipal authorities could be involved in the threats. She added that she held the mayor responsible for anything that might happen to her.

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