The man who Mexican President
Felipe Calderón Hinojosa said had confessed to taking part in the murder of reporter
Armando Rodríguez Carreón was tortured, the newspaper El Diario in Ciudad Juárez reported today. On Wednesday, Calderón
told a delegation from CPJ and the Inter American Press Association about the man's
alleged involvement in the killing. Mexico's attorney general, Arturo Chávez
Chávez, cast the confession as a breakthrough in the case.
Rodríguez, a renowned
crime reporter for El Diario, was
shot in front of his young daughter in November 2008. Since then, the
investigation has stalled and his newspaper has campaigned persistently for state
and federal authorities to produce results. There had been none until Calderón's
announcement on Wednesday.
Chávez said the man had
confessed to being the driver in the killing and had identified the gunmen and mastermind.
The motive, according to Chávez, quoting the alleged confession, was Rodríguez's
many unfavorable stories about organized crime.
But all that is called
into question by today's story in El
Diario, which cites unnamed sources as saying the man, Juan Soto Arias, was
tortured. Mexican authorities could not be reached late Friday for comment on
the El Diario allegations.
According to the editor
and a reporter at El Diario, the
information about the alleged torture was developed from two unrelated streams
of information. First, an employee of the paper reported to management that a
relative in police custody was being taken out of the state prison by state
agents who were torturing him and demanding he confess to killing Rodríguez, according
to Pedro Torres, the paper's editor. The El
Diario employee said this began several months ago, Torres told CPJ. "Our
man says his brother admits he is a hit man for a cartel and his has killed
many people. He doesn' deny that. But he refused to confess to killing
Rodríguez," Torres said.
Then, a month ago, the reporter
who replaced Rodríguez on the police beat, Luci Sosa, began hearing that a
prisoner was being taken from the prison to a military base and being tortured,
she told CPJ. Allegedly this man was also being told to confess to the Rodríguez
killing. It turned out the prisoner in both instances was Soto, according to Torres
The Rodríguez case has
become a yardstick for the collapsed criminal justice system in Ciudad Juárez,
where so far this year there have been 2,200 murders associated with a war
between two cartels and the government's weak efforts to fight them both.
Despite having as many as 7,500 soldiers and 2,500 federal police officers, the
government has failed to make the city a model for reasserting authority over
organized crime. There are few arrests and many fewer successful prosecutions.
In the Rodríguez case,
the main federal investigator was gunned down on the street last year and days
later the investigator who replaced him was murdered.
Only last Sunday, El Diario published an editorial that
said publically what most in Juárez have been saying for more than a year. The
editorial said that state and federal authorities no longer have control of the
city. It is being run, El Diario
said, by criminal gangs.
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