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Ministry agents and Acapulco police officers under scrutiny for irregularities in investigation of journalist's murder

(CEPET/IFEX) - The Guerrero Attorney General's Office has opened an investigation into the conduct of several Public Ministry (Ministerio Público) agents and Acapulco's Ministerial Police who were in charge of the preliminary investigation of journalist Amado Ramírez's murder. The decision is in response to a 10 January 2008 recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission (Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos, CNDH).

Guerrero State Attorney General (Procurador de Justicia) Eduardo Murueta told the Acapulco-based daily "El Sur" that his office is looking into the conduct of agent Esteban Maldonado Palacios, police officer José Roberto Radilla Hernández, his brother Emanuel and other officers who took part in the investigation.

Ramírez was a correspondent for the Televisa television station and host of the "Al Tanto" news programme, broadcast by Radiorama radio group. On 6 April 2007, he was shot soon after he left the radio station where he worked. The incident occurred in broad daylight and in the middle of Acapulco, southwestern Mexico.

Four days later, two individuals accused of the murder, Genaro Vázquez Durán and Leonel Bustos Muñoz, were arrested after an extensive manhunt.

Subsequently, the CNDH found that the investigation was plagued by irregularities, including the harassment of witnesses, falsification of evidence, torture, omissions, and the failure to pursue certain leads.

The CNDH was able to confirm that Vázquez and Bustos were tortured and suffered cruel and inhumane treatment while in custody. The commission also found that an eye witness denies having identified Vázquez as the assassin he saw running from the scene of the crime, and says he was pressured into providing this testimony.

Moreover, the officers who are now under investigation failed to investigate the possibility that the murder may have been linked to Ramírez's work and also ignored three other possible reasons for the murder, focusing solely on personal motives, such as jealousy.

Nevertheless, State Prosecutor Murueta told "El Sur" that other motives have now been explored and the evidence still points to a personal motive for the murder. However, he stressed that he had accepted the recommendations of State Governor Zeferino Torreblanca and ordered an investigation into the conduct of the officers involved, promising there would improvements in the investigation.

CEPET commends the Guerrero state for accepting the CNDH's recommendations and urges authorities to ensure that due process is followed so that the killers and the individuals behind the attack are identified and brought to justice.

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