REGIONS:

Newspaper editor missing in Michoacán state following his investigations into drug-trafficking

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is alarmed by the news that José Antonio García Apac, the editor of the weekly "Ecos de la Cuenca" in Tepalcatepec, in the southwestern state of Michoacán, has been missing since 20 November 2006. The press freedom organisation fears the worst given that Adolfo Sánchez Guzmán of radio Xhora Ori Stereo 99.3 was found shot dead on 30 November in the eastern state of Veracruz, two days after going missing (see IFEX alerts of 30 November and 4 December 2006).

"Not a week has gone by since the end of October without a journalist disappearing or being murdered in Mexico," RSF said. "García Apac's disappearance makes us fear the worst as he was working as a journalist in Michoacán state, where drug traffickers do not hesitate to decapitate rivals or critics."

The organisation added: "Once again, we call on the appropriate federal authorities to intervene in this case in an attempt to save this journalist's life, and we urge the new government to give the authorities substantial investigative resources."

García Apac phoned his family on the evening of 20 November to say he was leaving the newspaper offices and heading towards the family home in Morelia, the state capital. RSF learned that the last person to seem him, one of his colleagues, subsequently received a call from him at about 7:15 p.m. (local time) saying he was going to a meeting at the so-called "Ruana" intersection.

Fifteen minutes later, one of his sons received a call from him that was cut short by voices telling García Apac to identify himself and to turn off his mobile phone. There has been no word of him since then and his car has not been found.

García Apac had published several investigation reports in his newspaper about drug trafficking in Michoacán state, which is notorious for its violent feuding between local cartels.

His family said he had noticed he was being followed a few months ago. He had had a few run-ins with the local mayor because of his outspoken criticism of the local level of violent crime but they patched up their differences. The family said he had also written to the state governor asking him to do more to combat drug trafficking.

García Apac is the third journalist to have disappeared this year in Mexico. Eight others have been murdered this year, including Jaime Arturo Olvera Bravo of the daily "La Voz de Michoacán", who was killed on 9 March (see IFEX alerts of 13 and 10 March 2006).

Latest Tweet:

Five journalists sentenced to 2 years in jail in #Burma on anti-state charges http://t.co/GNAdITEdhk | @pressfreedom