Two of the five victims killed in Mexico City early Friday morning had reported death threats from the Veracruz state government of Governor Javier Duarte.
It was revealed that activist Nadia Vera, who died alongside photojournalist Ruben Espinosa and three other women, had told a local television station that if she were killed, Duarte would be responsible. Espinosa, on the other hand, had fled to Mexico City from Veracruz as he feared for his life at the hands of the same people Vera denounced.
As the case unfolds, evidence has surfaced that all the victims were tortured before they were executed with one shot to the head with a .9 millimeter handgun. The four women were also apparently sexually abused.
Mexico City Attorney General Rodolfo Rios Garza said his office has questioned 14 potential witnesses, assuring all “lines of investigation will be exhausted.”
According to Reforma, a social gathering took place at the apartment where the five were found dead, with five others present. The murder was likely perpetrated by three men, who are still at large, while another man and a woman are reported missing.
Rios Garza refused to answer reporters' questions as to whether Duarte would be called in for testimony regarding the alleged death threats and Vera's video accusing him of wanting to kill her.
There is no clarity as to why the governor of Veracruz would want to kill Vera and Espinosa but the fact remains that since Duarte took office in 2010, 14 journalists have been killed and five gone missing in his state. The attorney general's office said under Duarte, journalism-related deaths have been steadily increasing.
Duarte sent a strong and menacing message to journalists in his state in July, during a public event to commemorate the Free Speech Week, when he said to them, “Please behave, I beg you. It's for your own good.”
On Monday, Duarte offered his support to the investigation of the case, which he called condemnable.
Noticias desde Veracruz's editor, Walter Ramirez, told teleSUR Espinosa was let down by a London-based international organization that aims to protect journalists.
“He confided in Article 19 [a London-based international organization that protects journalists] and they failed him terribly,” said Ramirez, who strongly criticized the organization and its director Dario Ramirez for being interested only in securing donations.
Jose Gil Olmos, reporter for Mexican investigative magazine Proceso, for which Espinosa also worked, said while there are indications organized crime could be involved in the killings of the two, this would not explain the murders of the other three people there. Organized crime usually only targets the “person of interest,” and would normally abduct him or her and kill them elsewhere.
Crimes against journalists were recently made a federal rather than state crime. In May 2013, Article 10 of the penal code was modified to say that all crimes against journalists should be investigated by the federal attorney general's office, known as the PGR, when they constitute aggression against freedom of speech or press.
The article also states in clause II that when the victim or victims have pointed to state or municipal authorities as probable perpetrators, the PGR should take on investigations, as they could be tampered with by state officials.
However, the PGR has refused to take over the Espinosa case, saying it will monitor the investigation closely and assist if asked by Mexico City authorities.
The death of Ruben Espinosa #increases to 103# the number of journalists killed since 2000, making Mexico the #second most dangerous country# to practice the profession.
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