New York, March 27, 2001 — CPJ is deeply concerned about the recent murder of Saúl Antonio Martínez Gutiérrez, deputy editor of the daily El Imparcial, based in Matamoros, Tamaulipas State.
CPJ is investigating the murder to determine whether Martínez Gutiérrez was killed because of his professional work.
At around 4:30 p.m. on March 24, according to local press reports, Martínez Gutiérrez’s body was found in the back seat of his Ford Explorer in the municipality of Río Bravo, near the Tamaulipas-Texas border. The journalist had been shot four times in the head, execution-style, with a 9mm-caliber gun. Bruises on his body suggested that he had been tortured.
Martínez Gutiérrez was the son of Gonzalo Martínez Silva, El Imparcial‘s editor and publisher. Martínez Silva told CPJ that his son was last heard from at around 11:00 p.m. on March 23, when he telephoned one of the paper’s reporters.
When the journalist failed to show up at El Imparcial‘s offices the next morning, Martínez Silva contacted local authorities. He believes that Matamoros drug traffickers executed his son because of articles about them in El Imparcial. He added that his son had received threats but did not take them seriously.
According to local authorities, the Ministerial Police are also investigating the possibility that the attack may have been provoked by El Imparcial‘s coverage of immigrant smuggling and official corruption.
In a letter sent today to Tamaulipas State attorney general Eduardo Garza Rivas, CPJ urged him to investigate the murder and bring its perpetrators to justice. CPJ noted that most of the many violent attacks against journalists working on the U.S.-Mexican border have been carried out with impunity.