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Attorney General retracts allegation that disappeared TV Azteca journalists had ties to drug traffickers

(CEPET/IFEX) - The Office of the Attorney General of the state of Nuevo León, in northeast Mexico, issued a statement on 8 November 2007 denying that there is any evidence linking Gamaliel López Candanosa, a missing TV Azteca reporter, to drug cartels, which Attorney General Luis Carlos Treviño Berchelmann had implied was the case when he appeared before a committee of the Nuevo León state Congress on 7 November.

López Candanosa and TV Azteca cameraman Gerardo Paredes Pérez disappeared on 10 May after meeting a contact for the Mother's Day celebrations. Since then, rumours have circulated to the effect that they may have been kidnapped by an organized crime group. Their whereabouts is still unknown.

On 7 November, during his appearance before representatives of the Nuevo León congress, Treviño Berchelmann indicated that López Candanosa had ties to organized crime, which had led to his disappearance with Paredes Pérez. He said, "in the case of the reporter (López Candanosa), I don't know about the cameraman, I'm going to give you an example so you can see to what point the young fellow was involved. When someone was executed in March and left a message on the body, we sent a patrol and the message was in the patrol car, and there were calls at TV Azteca asking why the message had not been referred to."

"There was another body with an identical message last year, and the reporter arrived before the police did, only two minutes after the police were informed that a body had been found. Ties to organized crime are dangerous, it's impossible to make deals with them, and the consequences are fatal," the attorney general had added, although he offered no evidence linking López Candanosa to any criminal group. "Since then, the investigations definitely point to them (the reporters) working for this kind of group," he continued during his appearance.

In Mexico, it is not unusual for reporters to arrive before the authorities to sites of crimes, given that in order to carry out their work as journalists, they have radios with which they tune in to the police radio frequencies.

Nuevo León's Attorney General issued a press release on 8 November denying that there is any evidence linking either the TV Azteca reporter or cameraman to organized crime. The press release stated that the Attorney General "offers a public apology and regrets the moral damage that the families of Gamaliel López Candanosa and Gerardo Paredes Pérez may have suffered due to the journalists' interpretations published by some media outlets," referring to Treviño Berchelmann's 7 November comments.

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