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Arrest in Mexican reporter's killing met with doubt

October 31, 2012 |  3:46 pm

Vigil for slain Mexico journalist Regina Martinez

MEXICO CITY -- Veracruz state authorities announced an arrest in the killing of a well-known reporter, but the slain woman's colleagues and friends greeted the news with skepticism and scorn.

Regina Martinez, a veteran reporter for the muckraking national newsmagazine Proceso, was killed in her home in the Veracruz capital, Xalapa, about six months ago. She was one of more than half a dozen journalists and former journalists who have been slain or gone missing in Veracruz in the last two years. Local reporters --  many of whom have fled to Mexico City in fear of their lives --  blame drug traffickers and corrupt authorities.

Late Tuesday, the Veracruz state prosecutor announced the arrest of a two-bit thief, Jose Antonio Hernandez, and said he had confessed to beating Martinez to death. The motive was robbery, prosecutor Amadeo Flores Espinosa said, and a second suspect remains at large.

With that, the authorities in Veracruz declared the case solved. But many of those close to Martinez, along with press freedom advocates, were not buying it.

"We take this with all the skepticism it deserves," the editor of Proceso, Rafael Rodriguez Castañeda, told MVS radio on Wednesday (link in Spanish). "We do not believe it."

Rodriguez and others who knew Martinez said she would not have let into her house, in the middle of the night, someone like the suspect, a criminal with a record and unknown to her.

In addition, Rodriguez said, it was suspicious that Veracruz officials initially pledged a full probe that would incorporate an investigative reporter from Proceso and the federal prosecutor in charge of crimes against journalists. But Proceso and the federal prosecutor were kept in the dark through the entire case, Rodriguez said. A source close to the prosecutor, Laura Borbolla, confirmed that she too had not been included in the investigation.

Rodriguez said Veracruz officials seemed hasty in their determination that Martinez's work as a journalist was not a cause of her death. She often wrote about official corruption and sometimes about drug trafficking.

In August, Veracruz authorities also said they had solved the cases of five other journalists and news media workers killed in the state in May and June. But the purported confessions of seven detainees were later revealed to contain vague admissions and no details, raising more questions.

ALSO:

Seeking justice for Mexico state's female victims

Under threat from Mexican drug cartels, reporters go silent

Shadowy group says it targets cartel; some in Veracruz are glad

-- Tracy Wilkinson

Photo: A photograph of slain journalist Regina Martinez hangs on a cross during a vigil in her honor this year outside the municipal offices in Xalapa, Mexico. Credit: Felix Marquez / Associated Press
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