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Father and son journalists gunned down outside town hall in state of Mexico

(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is outraged by the fatal shootings of Bonifacio Cruz Santiago, the publisher of the weekly "El Real", and his son, Alfonso Cruz Cruz, its editor, on 7 February 2008 outside the town hall of Chimalhuacán, in the central state of Mexico. According to local reports, the gunmen may have mistaken Bonifacio Cruz Santiago for a municipal legal advisor with whom the two journalists had an appointment.

"This double killing comes just 48 hours after the murder of a journalist in the northeast of the country," RSF said. "So far there is no evidence that their deaths were linked to their work as journalists, but these shootings highlight the climate of violence in which the press must operate in Mexico, the hemisphere's most dangerous country for the media."

RSF added: "We offer our condolences to the relatives and colleagues of Bonifacio and Alfonso Cruz and we hope that the investigators quickly establish whether they were killed by mistake, as some of the local media outlets suspect, or whether they were deliberately targeted."

On the morning of 7 February, Bonifacio Cruz Santiago and Alfonso Cruz Cruz went to the office of Raymundo Olivares Díaz, the Chimalhuacán town hall's legal advisor and former head of an association of small landowners. When they found that Olivares was not there, they went outside the town hall to wait, at which point two men in their 30s arrived and opened fire on them. The son was killed on the spot. The father died while being rushed to hospital. Two municipal employees were wounded in the shooting.

The local media suspect that the gunmen mistook Bonifacio Cruz for Olivares Díaz, who had recently received death threats in connection with a land dispute among peasants. However, when contacted by RSF, Chimalhuacán town hall spokesman Miguel Ángel González advised against jumping to conclusions. "We are not yet able to establish the motives for the murder," he said. The prosecutor's office of the state of Mexico has taken charge of the case.

Launched 20 years ago, "El Real"'s news content consists primarily of information put out by the state government and the town halls in the eastern part of the state. It does not do investigative reporting on any sensitive subjects.

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