Former director of Mexico City daily found murdered

New York, November 17, 2006—José Manuel Nava Sánchez, former director of the Mexico City-based daily Excélsior and columnist for the national daily El Sol de México, was found murdered yesterday in his apartment. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating whether the killing is connected to his work.

According to the Mexican press, Nava’s body was found around 9 a.m. by a cleaner in his Mexico City apartment. He had been stabbed at least seven times on the neck and chest. Local authorities told reporters that a number of valuable items were apparently missing from the journalist’s home.

Nava had been Excélsior’s director from February 2002 until December 2005, when the paper was bought by Grupo Imagen, owner of several Mexican radio stations. Until then, Excélsior had been run by its journalists and employees as a cooperative. Before taking over as director, Nava had been Excélsior’s correspondent in Washington D.C. for 16 years.

In September, Nava began writing the daily column “Nuevo Poder” (New Power) for El Sol de México, said Guillermo Chao, information director for the Mexican Editorial Organization that owns the daily. Nava’s columns focused on political and social analysis, Chao told CPJ.

On November 6, Nava published a book entitled Excélsior, el asalto final (Excélsior, the Final Assault), criticizing Mexican government officials, Excélsior employees and members of the Mexican business community for their role in the demise of Excélsior as a cooperative, the local press reported. Nava accused several individuals of dishonesty, Octavio Colmenares, a spokesman for the book’s publisher Libros para Todos Editorial, was quoted as saying by The Associated Press. Both Colmenares and Chao said that they know of no threats against Nava.

Mexico City authorities conducting an investigation into the murder said that they have not been able to determine a motive and do not have suspects in custody, according to the local press.

“We are shocked by the killing of our colleague José Manuel Nava, the fifth journalist murdered this year in Mexico,” said CPJ Executive Director, Joel Simon. “We urge Mexican authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into Nava’s death.”

CPJ has confirmed that one of the five journalists killed this year was slain in connection with his reporting. It continues to investigate the killings of the four others.