Journalist’s death linked to his work

With an investigation barely under way, Mexican journalist protection groups are already expressing fears that authorities will not consider the brutal killing of a photojournalist as being related to his work — even though he fled the state he covered fearing for his safety.

Mexico City officials said they are pursuing all lines of investigation into the death of Ruben Espinosa, whose tortured body was found along with four slain women in an apartment in Mexico’s capital. Prosecutor Rodolfo Rios Garza said authorities were following protocols for crimes againstjournalists and crimes against women, as well as looking at robbery as a possible motive.

But when dealing with journalists’ killings, authorities in Mexico have usually been quick to discard their work as a motive, even though the country is the most dangerous in Latin America for reporters. Some 90 percent of journalist murders in Mexico since 1992 have gone unpunished, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“What’s particularly pernicious is that violence against the press is violence against society,” said Dario Ramirez, director of the Article 19 free press advocacy group.

“There are many places in the country where silence paves the road so that organised crime, corruption, everything that destroys a society can continue without setbacks or obstacles.”

Espinosa fled Xalapa, the capital of the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz, for Mexico City in June after he said that unknown people were following and harassing him.

Veracruz has been a dangerous state for reporters, with 11 journalistskilled in the current administration of Gov. Javier Duarte, that began in 2010.

Two have been killed outside of the state and three have gone missing.

Fears that Espinosa’s death could end in impunity were fuelled by a news conference by Rios, when Mexico City’s prosecutor never acknowledged that Espinosa was seeking refuge in Mexico’s capital, saying he came tothe city for “professional opportunities.”

The comment led to shouts and protests from reporters, who asked if the events that drove Espinosa into self-exile in June were being investigated. He had been working for investigative newsmagazine Proceso and other media outlets.

Rios only repeated that all lines of investigation were being pursued, including his work as a journalist.Espinosa had said in interviews that he was harassed over several years while covering events in Veracruz, including once being told to stop taking photos of students detained during a protest in 2012, the same year another Proceso journalist, Regina Martinez, was killed.

Her role reporting on government corruption was never considered as a motive for her killing. Instead, officials in Veracruz said it was robbery.


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