New York, March 3, 2010—Investigators in Tabasco State should continue to investigate the 2007 disappearance of Mexican journalist Rodolfo Rincón Taracena despite the recently publicized alleged confessions of five suspects in custody.
On Sunday, the Tabasco State attorney general’s office
announced that five men in custody since 2007 on drug charges confessed three
years ago to being involved in Rincón’s murder and told authorities where his
remains could be found, according to local news reports.
Rincón, a reporter with the daily Tabasco Hoy, disappeared
shortly after writing stories that identified small stores in Villahermosa, the state capital, where
illegal drugs were allegedly sold, CPJ research shows. The men in custody since
2007 said members of the criminal organization Los Zetas killed Rincón to stop
him from writing stories about their operations, according to a news release
issued by state authorities.
The alleged killer and mastermind of the crime, identified
in the official release as Roberto Hernández Cruz, was killed in a June 2007
gunfight with Tabasco
The suspects’ confession led to a search warrant of a Tabasco property where state
police discovered the charred remains of at least five people, the release
said. After performing several DNA tests, authorities were unable to identify
the remains. According to the state attorney general’s office, Rincón and
others were dismembered before being burned inside metal drums. Investigators
have closed the case without tying the remains to Rincón.
“Confessions in Mexico are notoriously unreliable
and there have been many documented instances in which suspects were coerced
using torture and intimidation,” said CPJ Americas Senior Program Coordinator
Carlos Lauría. “For this reason, the case must remain open until the suspects
are convicted in open court based on forensic evidence and the remains of the
victim are positively identified. Journalists in Tabasco will not feel safe until the
disappearance is further clarified, and those responsible for this abduction
and murder are behind bars.”
The five men who allegedly confessed to involvement in
Rincón’s murder now face additional state charges and have also been
transferred to federal custody, according to Eduardo Hernández de la Cruz, a
spokesman for the state attorney general’s office.
Journalists at Tabasco Hoy reacted angrily to the
authorities’ decision to close the investigation, questioning the state
authorities’ delay in making the confessions public. In the early days of the
case, an editor who wished to remain anonymous for safety reasons said, they
tried to dismiss the matter as a crime of passion, then as something about a
business dispute. The editor said there were very few investigators assigned to
the case and for months they refused to consider that the motive had anything
to do with Rincón’s work.
Eight reporters, including Rincón, have disappeared in Mexico since
2005, CPJ research shows.
Many of the missing had investigated links between public officials and drug