Two Mexican policemen convicted for murder of Moisés Sánchez; chief suspects still at large

March 28, 2018 6:16 PM ET

A portrait of Moises Sánchez is seen at the Medellin home of his son in August 2015. The Veracruz journalist, known for his critical coverage of local authorities, was abducted and murdered in January 2015. (AFP/Alfredo Estrella)

Mexico City, March 28, 2018 - The Committee to Protect Journalists today welcomed the convictions of two police officers in the Mexican state of Veracruz, who stood trial for their involvement in the 2015 murder of journalist Moisés Sánchez Cerezo. Both men were sentenced to 25 years in jail on March 23, according to a statement yesterday by the Veracruz state attorney general's office (FGE).

"The verdict is a welcome step forward in a case that, for years, has languished in complete impunity," said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ's Mexico representative. "In order to achieve full justice for Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, however, federal and Veracruz state authorities must now move forward and do everything in their power to bring the remaining suspects including the mastermind to trial."

Forty-nine-year old Sánchez was the editor of La Unión, a small newspaper he published and distributed himself in the town of Medellín de Bravo, some 250 miles east of Mexico City in the state of Veracruz. On January 2, 2015, he was abducted from his home by gunmen. His dismembered body was found on January 24.

A former police officer turned drug trafficker, Clemente Noé Rodríguez, was arrested shortly after Sánchez's abduction and confessed to carrying out the murder with five other former policemen, whose full identities are still unknown. They allegedly acted on the orders of Medellín deputy police chief Martín López Meneses. The latter, in turn, allegedly received the order from then-Medellín Mayor Omar Reyes, who was allegedly angered by Sánchez's critical coverage, according to a May 2017 CPJ report. The whereabouts of both Reyes and López Meneses are unknown, while it remains unclear if and when Rodríguez will stand trial for the murder.

The two police officers sentenced to jail on March 23 were near the scene of the crime and, according to the FGE's statement, did nothing to stop the murder. They were convicted for failure to carry out their legal duty and intentional homicide.

"This is a miniscule step forward, but there are still many arrests to be made," Jorge Sánchez, the son of the victim, told CPJ today.

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