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Local crime critic slain

As the war between brutal drug cartels and militant authorities continues to unfold in Mexico, journalists who refuse to engage in self-censorship pay with their lives. In the most recent tragedy, a radio journalist was shot to death inside the station where he worked on 23 September, report the Centre for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET), the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) and other IFEX members.

According to CEPET, several armed men forced their way into the Radio Visión office and gunned down Norberto Miranda Madrid in front of his colleagues, in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua, in northern Mexico. He was shot repeatedly in the back of the neck.

Miranda Madrid, aged 44, was a severe critic of local crime who had been reporting on the lack of public security and criminal groups involved in the drug trade with the U.S., report CEPET and IAPA.

Colleagues told IFEX members that he had been harassed after covering the capture of several important leaders of the Juárez drug cartel on 4 September. He hosted an online radio programme and also wrote a column called "Cotorreando con El Gallito" (Chatting with El Gallito), reports CEPET. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Miranda Madrid's last column pinned a string of 25 execution-style murders in the area this month on local crime groups.

CPJ and the International Press Institute (IPI) say Miranda Madrid is the fifth journalist to be slain in Mexico in 2009, all with impunity.

Violence in the state of Chihuahua is relentless because of the coexistence of various drug cartels, says CEPET, and several journalists have fled the country after receiving death threats. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released a report this week of its latest fact-finding visit to Mexico in July, entitled "Behind the scenes of impunity in Mexico . . . " See: http://www.rsf.org/Media-ordeal-blamed-on-escalating.html

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