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Murdered journalist had received list of suspects in kidnapping he was investigating

(CENCOS/IFEX) - At 7:30 p.m. (local time) on 23 April 2007, the body of Saúl Noé Martínez Ortega was found. Martínez Ortega was a reporter and editor for "Interdiario Escorpión y Centenario", which is based in the city of Agua Prieta, located in Sonora state. He had been kidnapped by a group of unidentified men riding in two pick-up trucks on the morning of 16 April, in Agua Prieta. His body was found in a 40 meter-deep ravine, 600 meters from the Chihuahua-Sonora state border, just beyond Sierra de Puerto San Luis on the Chihuahua side.

Rosie Palomares, the director of "Diario de Agua Prieta" newspaper, told CENCOS that when Martínez Ortega's body was found "it was difficult to recognize him, due to the decomposition of his body, therefore it's presumed that he was murdered the same day he was taken away from in front of the doors of the Public Security Headquarters of the Municipality of Agua Prieta, where the reporter was presumably seeking protection from his assailants."

Palomares added that organised crime is believed to be behind the killing, since the journalist was taken by armed men whom the witnesses did not recognise as police. It should also be noted that Martínez Ortega covered the police beat, often investigating events in considerable detail.

The journalist's brother, Erick Martínez, told CENCOS that it was likely that the motive for his brother's murder was his investigation of the kidnapping of Juan Carlos Sánchez. Sánchez's wife had given the journalist a list of suspects in the kidnapping, which is another reason why the murder is believed to be the work of organised crime.

Martínez Ortega's body was found one meter from the site of the murder of the commander of the Criminal Police, Ángel Borboa Canchola, who had at one time been a policeman in Agua Prieta and was killed after a similar kidnapping on 13 March.

Palomares added that DNA tests had been performed to confirm the identity of the body, although with the finding of a tattoo on Martínez Ortega's right shoulder with the name of his oldest son, it was already virtually certain that it was his body, as his brother, director of "Interdiario", had confirmed.

CENCOS notes that this murder took place in northern Mexico, where several other journalists have also been killed, often at the hands of organised crime, and that the manner in which this murder was carried out is similar to that of the others. CENCOS demands that the Sonora state authorities and President Felipe Calderón ensure that a thorough investigation is carried out and that those responsible are brought to justice. It also asks them to ensure that the conditions necessary for freedom of expression to be exercised are established promptly.

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