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Mexico Newspaper Slams Official Claims Linking Murdered Photographer to Zetas

Vanguardia photographer Daniel Martinez Vanguardia photographer Daniel Martinez

A Mexican newspaper has denied officials' claims that one of its photographers, killed this week, was targeted because of his ties to the drug trade, while another newspaper revealed evidence that suggests the authorities are covering up the facts of the case.

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The dismembered body of Vanguardia photographer Daniel Alejandro Martinez Bazaldua was found alongside that of another man on a street in south Saltillo, Coahuila state. According to the state Attorney General's Office (PGJE), messages next to the bodies made direct reference to both men having worked for, and deserted, a criminal organization, which the PGJE later claimed was the Zetas.

Vanguardia strongly rejected the PGJE's claims, stating that one message said the double murder was a warning to residents. The newspaper demanded a serious investigation, and called on the authorities to present evidence that the men had ties to organized crime.

Meanwhile, Proceso claimed the PGJE apparently knew the location of the bodies before they appeared. According to the report, police received a phone call from PGJE representative Claudia Elodia Brondo Morales informing them of the location of the bodies. When officers went to examine the site, the bodies were not there -- they appeared only some time later when police returned to make a third search.

InSight Crime Analysis

Martinez' murder is just the latest attack on the press in a country where journalists are frequently threatened, kidnapped and killed, often for reporting on organized crime. The authorities have done little -- of 67 journalists killed in Mexico between 2006 and July 2012, only one case ended in a conviction. Details of past cases have, as with the death of Martinez, raised suspicions that officials were attempting to obscure the facts.

The authorities' rush to accuse Martinez of ties to the drug trade is reminiscent of other cases in which they have falsely linked victims to organized crime.

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