Miami, November 26, 2019 — Chilean authorities should conduct a swift and thorough investigation into the killing of journalist Albertina Martínez Burgos, determine if the attack was related to her work, and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
On November 21, the body of Martínez, a freelance photographer and media worker, was found in her apartment in Santiago, the capital, according to news reports. She was found by her boyfriend’s mother; her boyfriend had asked his mother to check in on Martínez after he had been unable to reach her, according to reports.
Martínez’s body had signs of having been stabbed and beaten, and all of her photographic equipment and materials were missing from her home, according to those reports.
According to initial reports, Martínez had been documenting the anti-government protests that have taken place in Chile since October 6, and had recorded Chilean police abusing protesters. However, a group of Martínez’s friends put out a statement yesterday, quoted by local outlet La Nacion, saying that she had not covered the protests or been involved as a protester.
“Chilean authorities should thoroughly investigate the killing of Albertina Martínez Burgos to determine if it was linked to her reporting and do everything possible to recover her equipment and materials,” said CPJ Central and South America Program Coordinator Natalie Southwick, in New York. “Photojournalists, especially freelancers like Martínez, are often on the front lines and face some of the greatest risks when reporting on civil unrest.”
Martínez also worked as a lighting assistant for local television station Megavisión, according to news reports.
In an interview with the news website 24horas, the prosecutor assigned to the case, Deborah Quintana, said that it is being treated as a murder, and that authorities are conducting an autopsy, interviewing witnesses, and reviewing footage from the security cameras at Martínez’s building.
CPJ repeatedly called the Metropolitan Center-North Region prosecutor’s office, which is overseeing the case, but no one answered the calls.