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Suspected killer of journalist detained

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 9 December 2008 IAPA press release:

IAPA hails progress in solving murder of journalist in Mexico
Repeats call for similar action in other murders, disappearances and legislation to make such crimes against free speech federal offenses

MIAMI, Florida (December 9, 2008) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today welcomed action by the authorities in Mexico to identify the alleged murderer of Alejandro Fonseca Estrada, a radio reporter killed in September this year, and at the same time repeated its appeal for justice to be done in other unpunished murders and disappearances in that country.

Fonseca Estrada, host of the morning show "El Padrino" (The Godfather) broadcast by EXA FM radio in Villahermosa in the southeastern state of Tabasco, was murdered on September 23. The Tabasco State Attorney General's Office on October 30 arrested hit man Ricardo López, a.k.a. Fernando Sandoval, in connection with another crime, but the authorities managed to identify him as Estrada's alleged killer. When Estrada was mounting, with other persons, street placards repudiating the wave of kidnappings and organized crime in Tabasco an onlooker reported on the action to the paramilitary group Los Zetas, whose angered leaders are said to have ordered the broadcaster's immediate execution.

IAPA President Enrique Santos Calderón praised "the effort and swiftness deployed to solve the crime," adding, "We trust that those who instigated the murder will also be brought to justice."

Santos, editor of the Bogotá, Colombia, newspaper El Tiempo, declared, "This is a good precedent for the authorities at the federal level to maintain and comply with their commitment to solve the murders and disappearances of journalists that remain unsolved and have created a blanket of impunity for those who resort to violence."

For 15 years the IAPA has been calling for crimes against freedom of expression to be treated as federal offenses, as well as that there be no statute of limitations in such cases and that the punishment be stiffened. This request has been expressed on various occasions to Mexican leaders and through documents emerging from events held in that country in Tijuana in 2002, Hermosillo in 2005, Nuevo Laredo in 2006 and Mexico City in June this year.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor and executive vice president of the Texas-based San Antonio Express-News, said he saw as a positive step the recent action by Mexican lawmakers to come up with a legislative bill that seeks to raise to the federal level investigations into crimes committed against journalists within the framework of offenses against free speech. The bill combines proposals by various organizations and interest groups, among them those of more than 50 representatives of newspapers who in June this year were brought together by the IAPA in the Mexican capital for the 2nd Meeting of Editors and Publishers of the Mexican Republic.

In the last year seven journalists have been murdered in Mexico, bringing to 68 the number since 1987 when the IAPA began compiling such statistics, while nine journalists are still missing.

Updates the Fonseca Estrada case: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/97249

For further information on the initiative to make crimes against journalists a federal offence, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/96997

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