Reporter found dead near Acapulco

New York, July 29, 2009–Mexican authorities found the brutally beaten body of a journalist partially buried near the southwestern resort city of Acapulco Tuesday afternoon, according to local news reports. The Committee to Protect Journalists called today on Mexican authorities to thoroughly investigate the killing, and to put an end to the ongoing violence against the Mexican press.

Juan Daniel Martínez Gil, anchor of the radio news programs “W Acapulco” on national W Radio and “Guerrero en vivo” on local Radiorama Acapulco, was found buried in a vacant lot in the town of La Máquina in state of Guerrero, Mexican news reports said. The journalist had been badly beaten, his hands and feet were tied, and his head was wrapped in brown tape, authorities told the local press.

Enrique Silva, Radiorama Acapulco’s news director, told CPJ that Martínez was extremely cautious when reporting the news and didn’t investigate sensitive topics such as drug trafficking or army and police activities in Acapulco. Silva said that Martínez had not informed him of any threats. Colleagues who spoke to CPJ said they believed the killing was related to Martínez’s work although they were unable to pinpoint a specific story. The state prosecutor told local reporters that his office was planning to review tapes of Martínez’s recent broadcasts in order to determine a possible motive for his murder.

“This crime seems particularly vicious, even by the already brutal standards of murders of journalists in Mexico,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “State and federal authorities must investigate this vicious murder exhaustively and put an end to this violence against the Mexican press.”

In the last few years, Guerrero has become an intense war zone for powerful drug gangs and government forces. On April 6, 2007, a gunman shot Amado Ramírez, another Radiorama reporter and correspondent for Televisa, Mexico’s largest television broadcaster, as he left the Radiorama studios. In April, a judge in Guerrero sentenced Genaro Vázquez Durán to 38 years in prison for Ramírez’s slaying. Authorities said it was a crime of passion but didn’t provide a clear explanation, the local press reported. The lawyer for the convicted killer has appealed the sentence. In the 2008 special report, “Three Killings, No Justice,” CPJ found that because of shoddy police work, fear, and political pressure, the investigation failed to move forward.

According to CPJ’s annual survey, Attacks on the Press, Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists. Since 2000, 28 journalists, including Martínez, have been killed. At least 10 have been murdered in direct reprisal for their work. In addition, seven journalists have disappeared since 2005. Most covered organized crime or government corruption. In June 2008, a CPJ delegation met with President Felipe Calderón, who expressed support for federal legislation protecting free expression. A bill, approved by the Mexican Chamber of Deputies in April, is currently stalled in the Senate.