Mexico Secures Rare Conviction for Journalist’s Murder

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Two former police officers in Mexico’s most dangerous state for journalists have been convicted of murdering a newspaper owner, a rare sentence in a country where impunity reigns in nearly all cases of violence against journalists.

Two former police officers for the municipality of Medellín de Bravo in Mexico’s southeastern state of Veracruz have been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the January 2015 murder of newspaper owner Moisés Sánchez, according to a recent press release from the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office.

The ex-officers, identified as Luigui Heriberto “N” and José Francisco “N,” were found guilty of intentional homicide and breach of legal duty. In addition to being sentenced to 25 years in prison, the former cops were ordered to pay damages of 332,250 pesos ($18,200).

Sánchez, who had received threats for his reporting on government corruption and violence as the owner of local newspaper La Unión, was taken from his home in early January 2015 and found decapitated and dismembered later that month.

The day after Sánchez’s body was discovered, former police officer Clemente Noé Rodríguez Martínez confessed to killing the journalist on orders from Martín López Meneses, the deputy director of the municipal police force. Meneses had allegedly received instructions from the town’s mayor Omar Cruz Reyes. Rodríguez also identified five other former police officers he alleged were involved in the murder.

Following the recent convictions, Moisés Sánchez’s son Jorge Sánchez decried the fact that charges against Meneses, Cruz and Rodríguez have not moved forward. Jorge Sánchez recently wrote for online news outlet Plumas Libres that the three-year-long investigation has moved at a “snail’s pace” and was “stalled,” and while “two convictions of former police officers for breach of their legal duty is minimal progress … it isn’t justice.”

The Committee to Protect Journalists has previously expressed concerns over “anomalies and delays” in the investigation, as well as the fact that key suspects have not been brought to justice.

InSight Crime Analysis

The recent sentencing of two former police officers in the case of Moisés Sánchez’s murder represents a small blow to the near total impunity for corrupt officials involved in violence against journalists in the country.

Nonetheless, the progress made in this high-profile case remains the exception to the rule. Mexico has an astounding 99.6 percent impunity rate for crimes against journalists, likely fueled by the fact that government officials are often involved in the crimes.

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Veracruz earned the title of the most dangerous Mexican state for journalists during the 2010 to 2016 term of Governor Javier Duarte, which ended abruptly when Duarte fled in an attempt to avoid corruption charges. During Duarte’s time in office, 17 journalists were murdered and three were disappeared. Although Veracruz has the most protective measures in place for journalists of any state in Mexico, a climate of impunity and complicity of government officials has allowed for continued violence against journalists, including those under police protection.

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