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Second journalist killed at US border in five weeks

(RSF/IFEX) - The following is an RSF press release:

A second journalist was killed at the US border in a little over a month

In a letter to Eduardo Garza Rivas, public prosecutor of the state of Tamaulipas (north-western part of the country), Reporters sans frontières (RSF, expressed its profound indignation over the assassination of Saúl Martínez, from the daily El Imparcial, published in Matamoros. The organisation asked the authorities to do everything in their power to ensure that the perpetrators of the murder be identified and punished. "This is the second journalist killed in one northern Mexican state in a little over a month," recalled Robert Ménard, RSF's secretary-general. He also condemned "the impunity that people who murder journalists in Mexico benefit from."

According to information obtained by RSF, Martínez, assistant director of the daily El Imparcial, was found by police with four 9mm bullets in the head on Saturday 24 March 2001, around 4 p.m., between the towns of Matamoros and Río Bravo. The journalist's body was lying in his truck, and he seemed to have been dead for about twelve hours. His identification was not stolen. His body was identified by his father, Gonzálo Martínez Silva, owner of El Imparcial. The method used by his killers was similar to that used by criminal groups in the region. Martínez had disappeared the evening prior, while he was investigating Ignacio Coronel, a narcotics trafficker in the region. According to the newspaper's editorial staff, he was last seen on 23 March at 8 p.m. at the judicial police offices in San Fernando, a town located approximately 130 kilometres south of Matamoros, where he went to interview commander Dionicio Flores. It appears that the journalist was kidnapped upon arrival at the Matamoros airport, where he told Flores he would be going. Two weeks earlier, Martínez received death threats. El Imparcial regularly publishes information about drug trafficking, smuggling of people without documentation to the United States, criminal activities and administrative corruption.

RSF recalls that on 19 February, José Luis Ortega Mata, editor of the weekly Semanario de Ojinaga, in the state of Chihuahua, was killed with two bullets to the head. In the 15 February edition, the journalist had published information on drug trafficking in the region. The investigators also did not rule out the hypothesis that it was a crime of passion. A journalist for fifteen years, Ortega Mata was editor of the weekly Prensa Libre. Most recently, he was elected president of Ojinaga's Association of Photographers and Cameramen.

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