Mexican man sentenced to 16 years for journalist’s murder

On June 3, 2009, Mexican Judge José Alberto Ciprés Sánchez sentenced Hiram Oliveros Ortiz to 16 years in prison for the 2004 murder of journalist Roberto Javier Mora García, editorial director of the Nuevo Laredo-based daily El Mañana, the paper reported. The following day, Oliveros’ attorney appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the State of Tamaulipas, according to local news reports.

On March 28, 2004, authorities charged Oliveros and Mario Medina, Mora’s neighbors and alleged lovers, with the journalist’s murder, the local press reported. Medina was accused of killing Mora, and Ortiz of acting as his accomplice. Medina was killed in prison two months after his incarceration, and Ortiz was transferred to another penitentiary, El Mañana reported.

In June 2008, the Mexican Human Rights Commission (CNDH) issued a report detailing several irregularities in the investigation. The CNDH found that Oliveros and Medina had been detained without a judicial order, and had been tortured prior to their confessions.

Mora was a harsh critic of then-Governor of Tamaulipas Tomás Yarrington and of former state prosecutor Francisco Cayuela, El Mañana said in an editorial published after Oliveros’ sentencing. Mora had also reported on corruption and drug trafficking along the U.S.-Mexico border. Investigators, however, have not looked into Mora’s journalism as possible motives for his killing.

Mora, 42, was stabbed 25 times in front of his Nuevo Laredo home on March 19, 2004. Although the journalist had not received any threats, many of his colleagues said they believe that his murder could be linked to his reporting on local drug trafficking and corruption. El Mañana Editor Ramón Cantú told CPJ in 2006 that Mora’s murder prompted the daily to censor its coverage on sensitive issues.