Mexican journalist shot dead in Guerrero state

March 3, 2017 5:31 PM ET

New York, March 3, 2017--Mexican authorities must conduct a credible and rigorous investigation into the killing of Cecilio Pineda Brito, a journalist who contributed to several outlets and published crime stories on social media, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. The 38-year-old reporter was shot dead yesterday in the municipality of Ciudad Altamirano, in Guerrero state, according to press reports and a colleague of the journalist.

At the time of the attack, Pineda was in a hammock at a car wash waiting for his vehicle, according to press reports. At around 7 p.m. at least two gunmen on a motorcycle stopped at the car wash and shot repeatedly at Pineda, the Mexican daily El Universal reported.

Pineda died while receiving first aid, Agence France-Presse said. A colleague of Pineda, who is familiar with the case and who spoke with CPJ on condition of anonymity for security reasons, said that Pineda was shot at least 10 times, including once in his neck.

"Deadly violence against the press is severely restricting the Mexican media's ability to report the news," said Carlos Lauría, CPJ's senior program coordinator for the Americas. "Mexican authorities must investigate this crime exhaustively and prosecute anyone who had a role in the murder of Cecilio Pineda Brito."

Pineda contributed to outlets including El Universal and La Jornada de Guerrero, and had founded the weekly publication La Voz de la Tierra Caliente a few years ago. The publication went out of circulation last year, his colleague said. The journalist continued to cover crime, social issues, and corruption through posts on his Facebook page, Cecilio Pineda, Las Noticias al Instante (Cecilio Pineda: The Instant News). His reporting attracted weekly threats sent via social media, his colleague told CPJ. The colleague did not give details about the threats.

In September 2015, attackers attempted to target Pineda outside his house, according to AFP. The colleague said the attack appeared to be connected to his reporting and that Pineda survived because an assailant's gun failed to go off.

Patricia Corchero, head of the federal protection mechanism for journalists, told CPJ that Pineda was known to be at risk. She said that the agency offered to relocate him and his family, but Pineda said he wanted to stay. Pineda had two young daughters.

Roberto Álvarez, a spokesman for the Guerrero state security department, said on his Twitteraccount that the state attorney general's office is investigating the murder. The Federal Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression told CPJ today that it will investigate the case.

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 49 journalists have been killed for unclear motives, according to CPJ research. In Ciudad Altamirano, where Pineda lived and worked, heroin-producing poppy crops are grown, which has led to gang warfare, according to The Associated Press.

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