Mexico City, December 12, 2016–Police in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua should conduct a full and credible investigation into the murder of Jesús Adrián Rodríguez Samaniego, a reporter for the radio stations Antena 102.5 FM and Antena 760 AM, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Rodríguez was fatally shot on December 10, his colleagues told CPJ.
According to media reports, Rodríguez had just left his home in Chihuahua City’s Santa Rosa neighborhood at around 7:30 a.m., on his way to participate in “Mesa de Reporteros,” a weekly Saturday radio talk show, when unknown assailants intercepted his green Nissan Tsuru and fired eight .45 caliber rounds at him. Rodríguez was hit by three bullets in his head and his neck, and died on the spot, according to press reports. Different media outlets reported that the victim was attacked by either one or two gunmen, but in a press conference held hours after the attack, Carlos Mario Jiménez, the prosecutor responsible for the central region of Chihuahua state, refrained from confirming any of those details, citing the ongoing investigation.
“Anyone who had any role in the murder of radio journalist Jesús Adrián Rodríguez Samaniego must be brought to swift justice,” said Carlos Lauría, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas. “Mexican authorities must show that journalists cannot be killed with impunity.”
According to Jiménez, the Chihuahua’s Public Prosecutor’s Office is investigating whether journalism was the motive for the killing. A spokesman for the office told CPJ that no new details about the investigation were available since Saturday’s press conference.
Rodríguez, 41, began working at Antena eight months ago, after previous stints as a crime reporter at, among other employers, the newspaper El Heraldo de Chihuahua and broadcaster Nueva Era Radio. Antena’s director of information, Angélica Delgado, told CPJ that Rodríguez mostly covered state politics. She said there had been no indication that he had received any threats because of his work as a reporter.
“We are trying to understand why this happened,” Delgado told CPJ. “None of his friends, colleagues, or family I spoke to knew of any threats against him either.”
In the wake of the attack, El Heraldo de Chihuahua reported that one possible motive for the murder may have been Rodríguez’s investigation into the 2013 jailing of two brothers from the northern Mexican state of Sinaloa. The men are currently held as suspects in a July 2009 attack on a government aid convoy that killed two policemen and an official of the federal Social Development Secretariat. According to the report, a sister of the two men had told Rodríguez several days ago in an interview that her brothers were falsely accused.
CPJ was not immediately able to confirm the report. Delgado told CPJ that she was not aware that Rodríguez was working on the story.
Mexico is among the most dangerous places in the Americas to be a journalist. At least 37 journalists and four media workers have been killed in the country for their work since CPJ began keeping records in 1992. Another 48 journalists have been killed for unclear motives, according to CPJ research.