PRIMEIRAS EDIçõES > ***
Jornalistas mortos em 2002
RELATÓRIO DO CPJ
O CPJ (Comitê de Proteção aos Jornalistas) contabiliza no ano, até agora, oito jornalistas mortos no mundo por motivos ligados à profissão. É o resultado parcial de uma das estatísticas mais usadas para medir o grau de liberdade de imprensa. Brasil, Colômbia, Israel, Paquistão, Filipinas, Rússia, Uganda e Venezuela são os países que compõem a lista dos que perderam algum jornalista este ano.
O último profissional a entrar nessa relação sombria é o repórter Tim Lopes, da TV Globo, raptado e morto no começo deste mês. Além das oito pessoas cuja morte comprovadamente aconteceu por exercício do jornalismo, dez jornalistas constam de uma lista de "motivo não confirmado". Se todos os casos ali descritos tiverem comprovada relação com o trabalho das vítimas, a Colômbia será o país mais violento para a imprensa, com cinco mortos no total.
Sediado em Nova York, o CPJ é uma instituição de defesa da liberdade de imprensa que atua globalmente desde 1981. Em seu sítio na internet <www.cpj.org> é possível conhecer números sobre de profissionais que morreram em outros anos, além de relatórios e informações sobre as condições da atuação jornalística em diversos pontos do mundo.
A seguir, o relatório em inglês:
CPJ’s research indicates that the following individuals were killed in 2002 because of their work as journalists. They either died in the line of duty or were deliberately targeted for assassination because of their reporting or their affiliation with a news organization.
See also our list of pending investigations into suspicious deaths, called Killed: Motive Unconfirmed.
Tim Lopes, TV Globo, Vila Cruzeiro, June 3, 2002
Lopes, an award-winning investigative reporter with TV Globo, was brutally murdered by drug traffickers.
He had disappeared several days earlier while working on assignment in the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro in a favela, an impoverished community that on the outskirts of the city.
On June 2, the 50-year-old Lopes traveled to Vila Cruzeiro. His driver met him at the favela around 8 p.m., but the journalist told the driver that he needed more time to finish his work. They agreed to meet again at 10 p.m., but Lopes never arrived. This was Lopes’ fourth visit to Vila Cruzeiro, and this time, he was carrying a hidden camera.
According to TV Globo, Lopes was working on a report about parties hosted by drug traffickers in Vila Cruzeiro that allegedly involved drugs and the sexual exploitations of minors. The inhabitants of the favela had told Lopes that they were powerless against drug traffickers and had complained about the lack of police action.
On June 3, TV Globo reported Lopes’ disappearance to the police.
According to the Rio de Janeiro Civil Police, two suspects, both members of a gang headed by local drug trafficker Elias Pereira da Silva, a leading suspect in Lopes’ disappearance, were arrested on the morning of June 9. Both men claimed that they heard how Lopes was murdered but denied any involvement in his killing.
According to the suspects’ depositions, details of which the police released and the Brazilian press published, drug traffickers close to Pereira da Silva kidnapped Lopes in Favela Vila Cruzeiro at around midnight on June 2. After Lopes told them he was a TV Globo reporter, the traffickers called Pereira da Silva, who was in a nearby favela.
They tied Lopes’ hands, forced him into a car, and took him to the favela where Pereira da Silva was staying. There, they beat the reporters and shot him in the feet to keep him from escaping. Then they held a mock trial and sentenced Lopes to death.
Pereira da Silva killed Lopes with a sword, and his body was burned and buried in a clandestine cemetery, said the suspects.
The police found charred human remains shortly after Lopes’ disappearance. Based on the testimony by the two suspects, however, law enforcement officials do not think that unidentified body is that of Lopes, and that continue to search for his remains.
Lopes received Brazil’s most important journalism award in December 2001 for a TV Globo report on drug trafficking. The report, titled “Drug Fair” and broadcast in August 2001, was filmed with a hidden camera and showed how traffickers sold drugs in a makeshift open drug market in a favela outside Rio de Janeiro. Reporter Cristina Guimarães, who co-produced the report with Lopes and two other colleagues, received death threats in September 2001 and had to leave Rio de Janeiro State, according to the daily O Estado de S. Paulo. The daily Jornal do Brasil reported that Lopes had also received threats for the report.
On June 10, CPJ sent a letter to Brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso urging him to do everything in his power to ensure that those who planned and carried out the murder are brought to justice.
Héctor Sandoval, RCN Televisión, outside of Cali, April 11, 2002
Sandoval, a cameraman with RCN Televisión, was shot while covering fighting between the Colombian army and leftist rebels and died early the next day.
Wálter López, who was driving Sandoval and his crew, was shot and killed during the firefight, said Rocío Arias, executive producer of RCN Televisión news.
The journalists came under fire on April 11 around 1:45 p.m. in a mountainous region outside the southwestern city of Cali where the army was pursuing fighters from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The rebels had just kidnapped 13 provincial lawmakers and four aides and were apparently seeking refuge when the army launched an operation to free the captives.
The crew had decided to turn back when an army helicopter hovering above opened fire on their vehicle, said Juan Bautista Díaz, a free-lance photographer working for Semana newsmagazine. The letters “RCN” were marked in large, bright colors on the roof and both sides of the vehicle, according to both Arias and Bautista.
A bullet pierced the roof and tore through López’s arm and into his body. According to Bautista, he appeared to have died instantly, but they were trying to apply a tourniquet when the army helicopter resumed fire. They were forced to flee for cover in a nearby ravine, said Bautista.
The journalists then tried to signal the helicopter for help by waving white T-shirts in the air. Fifteen minutes after López was shot, a bullet from the helicopter ripped through Sandoval’s left leg, said Bautista.
Continued fighting forced Bautista, Sandoval, and RCN correspondent Luz Estela Arroyave to hide in the ravine for about two hours. Journalists from a local newspaper who had also come to cover the combat later took them to a local hospital.
The army has opened an investigation into the killings, said an army spokesman in Bogotá, the capital, who asked to remain anonymous.
The FARC later freed one of the lawmakers and four aides. Two soldiers have been killed during the ongoing rescue operation. The fighting came amid Colombia’s 38-year civil conflict, which sets two main guerrilla armies against a right-wing paramilitary group and the government.
Raffaele Ciriello, free-lancer, March 13, 2002, Ramallah
Ciriello, an Italian free-lance photographer who was on assignment for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, was killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank city of Ramallah, according to press reports and eyewitness testimony. Ciriello was the first foreign journalist killed while covering the current Palestinian uprising, which began in September 2000. The photographer died after being hit by a burst of machine gun fire from the direction of an Israeli tank in Ramallah during Israel’s military offensive in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Amedeo Ricucci of the Italian television station Rai Uno told CPJ that he and his cameraman were accompanying Ciriello at the time of the incident. They were trailing a group of Palestinian gunmen who were some 200 yards in front of the journalists. Ricucci said the area was quiet and was located roughly 500 yards to a half-mile from a nearby refugee camp where fighting between Israelis and Palestinians was taking place.
The three journalists were standing inside a building off an alleyway, Ricucci said. Shortly afterward, a tank emerged at one end of the street some 150 to 200 yards away, he said. Ciriello left the building and pointed his camera at the tank. He then came under fire without warning. Ciriello was shot six times and died of his wounds soon afterward.
There was at least one Palestinian gunman in Ciriello’s vicinity at the time of the shooting, according to press reports.
The Italian government has demanded a full investigation into the attack, according to the AP.
An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman was unable to provide details about the circumstances of the shooting and claimed to have no information about the presence of journalists in Ramallah, which the IDF said was a closed military area.
The IDF added that journalists who entered the area were “endangering” themselves and claimed that it was not clear whether Ciriello’s death was caused by Israeli or Palestinian gunfire.
Palestinian doctors said Israeli forces fired the rounds, according to press reports. Ricucci told CPJ that Ciriello’s camera was in the hands of Italian authorities. The images it contained could help determine the source of the firing and the circumstances of the incident.
Daniel Pearl, The Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2002, Pakistan
U.S. government officials confirmed on February 21 that Pearl, kidnapped South Asia correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, had been killed by his captors.
The exact date of his murder was not known, but officials announced his death after receiving a graphic, three-and-a-half-minute digital videotape that contains many horrifying images, including a scene in which one of the killers slits Pearl’s throat and another in which someone holds his severed head. The faces of the assailants are not visible on the video, according to news reports.
Pearl, 38, went missing on January 23 in the port city of Karachi and was last seen on his way to an interview at the Village Restaurant. Four days later, a group calling itself “The National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty” sent an e-mail to several U.S.- and Pakistan-based news organizations claiming responsibility for kidnapping Pearl. The e-mail also contained four photos of the journalist, including one in which he is held at gunpoint and another in which he is holding a copy of the January 24 issue of Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper.
The e-mail also protested the conditions of detainees being kept by the U.S. Army in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The sender(s), who used a Hotmail e-mail account under the name “Kidnapperguy,” said Pearl was “at present being kept in very inhuman circumstances quite similar infact [sic] to the way that Pakistanis and nationals of other sovereign countries are being kept in Cuba by the American Army.”
Among a series of demands, the e-mail said the U.S. must send all Pakistani detainees in Cuba back to Pakistan and release Abdul Salam Zaeef, the former ambassador to Pakistan from Afghanistan’s Taliban militia. An Urdu-language attachment to the e-mail also included an additional demand calling for the U.S. to hand over F-16 fighter jets purchased by Pakistan but never delivered due to sanctions related to Islamabad’s nuclear weapons program.
Another e-mail was sent on January 30, also including photographs of Pearl held captive. While the earlier e-mail had accused Pearl of being an American spy, this one branded him as an agent of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, and said he would be killed within 24 hours unless the group’s demands were met.
After scrutinizing the videotape received weeks later, authorities believe that Pearl may have been murdered even before the second e-mail was sent.
In the videotaped footage, Pearl is apparently forced to identify himself as Jewish and to deliver scripted lines reiterating some of the demands made in the e-mails, according to an FBI analysis of the tape that was provided to the Journal.
Though investigations continue and Pearl’s body has not been recovered, Pakistani police have arrested several suspects?including Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a British-born Islamic militant who police say organized Pearl’s kidnapping.
On March 14, a U.S. grand jury indicted Saeed, charging him with hostage taking and conspiracy to commit hostage taking resulting in the murder of Daniel Pearl. Saeed “methodically set a death trap for Daniel Pearl, lured him into it with lies, and savagely ended his life,” said U.S. attorney general John Ashcroft while announcing the indictment, which was filed in the U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, near the headquarters of The Wall Street Journal.
U.S. prosecutors also unsealed a secret indictment filed against Saeed in November 2001 accusing him of participating in the 1994 kidnapping of U.S. tourist Bela J. Nuss in India.
Edgar Damalerio, Zamboanga Scribe and DXKP Radio, Pagadian City, May 13, 2002
Damalerio, managing editor of the weekly newspaper Zamboanga Scribe and a commentator on DXKP radio station in Pagadian City on the island of Mindanao, was shot and killed at about 8:00 p.m.
A gunman shot Damalerio in his jeep as he was driving home from a press conference in Pagadian City. He was killed by a single bullet wound to his left torso.
Two witnesses riding in Damalerio’s jeep said the gunman, who was on a motorcycle driven by an unidentified male, was waiting alongside the road as Damalerio approached. The assailants fled the scene.
CPJ believes that Damalerio, known for his critiques of corruption among local politicians and the police, was killed for his journalistic work.
On May 16, police arrested Ronie Quilme as a suspect in the shooting. However, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) publicly cast doubt on the arrest, saying the police witness who identified Quilme was too far from the scene of the crime to be able to accurately spot the murderer, according to local press reports.
After conducting a separate investigation, on May 17 the NBI detained Pagadian City police officer Guillermo Wapili, who had been identified in a police lineup by another witness. Damalerio had frequently criticized Wapili’s superior officer in his reports, according to the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.
On the day of Damalerio’s shooting, his wife sent him a text message alerting him that she had noticed two men “casing the house,” according to a report in the Philippine Daily Inquirer by Hernan dela Cruz, publisher of the Zamboanga Scribe.
A few hours before Damalerio was shot, an employee of the Zamboanga Scribe also reported receiving a number of mysterious anonymous calls. On May 14, the day after the journalist’s death, an unidentified male made threatening phone calls to the newspaper offices implying that the staff was in danger, according to dela Cruz’s report.
Damalerio’s murder was only the latest in a string of killings that have been committed since democracy was restored in the Philippines in 1986. Thirty-eight journalists have been killed during the last 16 years, and none of the perpetrators has ever been convicted.
Journalists are especially vulnerable on the strife-torn island of Mindanao, where separatist Muslim guerrilla groups are battling the Philippine army.
On May 15, CPJ wrote a letter to President Gloria Arroyo urging her to ensure that Damalerio’s killers are brought to justice in a timely manner, and that her administration makes public any findings from the investigation.
Valery Ivanov, Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye, Togliatti, April 29, 2002
Ivanov, editor of the newspaper Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye in the southern Russian city of Togliatti, was shot dead outside his home at approximately 11 p.m.
Ivanov, 32, was shot eight times in the head at point-blank range while entering his car, a colleague at the newspaper told CPJ.
Eyewitnesses saw a 25- to 30-year-old man walk up to Ivanov’s car and shoot him, according to local press reports and CPJ sources. The killer then fled the scene on foot.
Local police have opened a criminal investigation and are considering several possible motives, though the possibility that he was murdered in retaliation for his writing remains the prime theory.
Ivanov’s colleagues believe the killing was connected to his work. Tolyatinskoye Obozreniye is well known for its reports on local organized crime, drug trafficking, and official corruption.
Ivanov also served as a deputy in the local Legislative Assembly.
Jimmy Higenyi, United Media Consultants and Trainers, January 12, 2002, Kampala
Higenyi, a student at the United Media Consultants and Trainers, was covering a rally in Kampala organized by the Uganda Peoples Congress, an opposition party. He had been assigned the story as part of his journalism course work.
The government had banned the gathering under article 269 of the constitution, which outlaws all political activity in the country. A few moments after a large group of people gathered at the rally’s venue, the police fired into the crowd, hitting Higenyi. He died instantly.
The Inspector General of Police, Maj. Gen. Katumba Wamala, apologized for Higenyi’s death and said that the police took full responsibility.
Jorge Tortoza, 2001, Caracas, April 11, 2002
Tortoza, 48, a photographer for the Caracas daily 2001, was shot on the afternoon of April 11 while covering violent clashes between opposition demonstrators and government supporters in the capital, Caracas. He died later that same evening.
The journalist, who was carrying his camera and wearing a vest identifying him as a member of the press, was standing on a corner near Caracas City Hall when he was shot in the head around 4 p.m. He was then taken to José María Vargas Hospital and died around 6 p.m.
The clashes came on the third day of a nationwide strike leading to a short-lived coup that ousted President Hugo Chávez Frías on April 11. He returned to power on April 14.
Several videos made public the following week did not show conclusively where the shots that killed the journalist came from, or who fired them, according to local press reports. One video released by the Caracas Metropolitan Police revealed that five gunmen were on the roof of the City Hall.
None of the gunmen were in uniform, although two of them had on bulletproof vests. Other videos taken by amateur cameramen show more unidentified gunmen in adjacent buildings. Eyewitness accounts and videos implicate both the Venezuelan National Guard and the Caracas Metropolitan Police in the shooting.
Eurídice Ledezma, a Venezuelan journalist and political analyst, told CPJ that Tortoza was shot by a gunman she saw firing from the roof of City Hall.
Tortoza, a veteran photographer, had worked for 2001 since 1991. On April 25, about 300 reporters, photographers, and cameramen from both the private and state media held a march to pay homage to Tortoza. The journalists, who held posters with his picture, demanded that those responsible for his death be punished, and that journalists be allowed to do their job without fear of reprisal.
During the events of April 11, at least 15 people were killed and dozens were wounded, including four journalists.
Harunur Rashid, Dainik Purbanchal, March 2, 2002, Khulna
Rashid, a reporter for the daily newspaper Dainik Purbanchal, was ambushed by gunmen while he was riding his motorcycle to work in the southwestern city of Khulna, according to Bangladeshi and international news reports. Three unidentified young men brought Rashid to a hospital, told doctors he had been injured in a car accident, and then disappeared. A doctor at the hospital told The Independent (a Dhaka-based newspaper) that Rashid suffered a fatal bullet wound to his chest.
Rashid, who is also known as Rashid Khukon, was an investigative reporter who had written several stories on official corruption and links between criminal syndicates and outlawed Maoist guerrilla groups, including the Purbo Banglar Communist Party (PBCP), according to the Dhaka-based Daily Star. Rashid’s relatives told reporters that he was on a PBCP hit list. He had also received anonymous death threats throughout his career.
Local journalists believe Rashid was killed for his reporting. Amiya Kanti Pal, a former colleague, told Reuters that, “Rashid was a brave reporter. We suspect that the criminals he wrote about might be behind his murder.”
On March 3, police announced that they had arrested three suspects in the case, including Nuruzzaman Sohel, an activist with the PBCP, according to the Daily Star.
Marco Antonio Ayala Cárdenas, El Caleño, January 23, 2002, Cali
Ayala, a photographer for El Caleño newspaper, was shot and killed by two assassins on a motorcycle as he was leaving a photo developing shop near the newspaper, authorities said.
Ayala, 43, died instantly after being shot six times in the head. He had worked at the newspaper in Cali, Colombia’s third-largest city, for four years.
Even though Cali police captain Mónica Quiroz said there was no known motive for the attack, an El Caleño editor said Ayala might have been killed because of a photo published last December.
The editor, Luis Fernando García, reported that Ayala had taken a photo at the annual Cali Fair that inadvertently showed a locally known criminal figure with his mistress. Details on the man were not immediately available.
Following the publication of the photograph on December 23, the man’s wife allegedly called Ayala requesting a copy. Ayala was leaving the developing shop with the photograph when he was gunned down, according to García.
A spokesman for the Judicial Police in Cali said the killing was under investigation. Ayala was married with two children.
Juan Carlos Gómez, La Voz de Aguachica (The Voice of Aguachica), northern Colombia, April 1, 2002
The body of Juan Carlos Gómez, an intern at a radio station in northern Colombia, was found floating in the Magdalena River on April 3. Authorities said he had been beaten to death.
Gómez, 23, began working as an intern at La Voz de Aguachica (The Voice of Aguachica) six weeks before he was killed. He helped operate equipment on an evening music program called “Romantic Nights,” said station director Freddy Alfonso Carvajalino.
Two unidentified men abducted Gómez and a friend, Óscar Guerrero, from Guerrero’s home on the night of April 1. They were then forced into a car, said Aguachica police captain Freddy Piñeros.
The following day, Gómez’s father, Luis Alejandro Gómez, received an anonymous call saying that his son had been killed and thrown into a nearby river. Luis Alejandro Gómez, who helped secure the internship for his son, has worked as a journalist and announcer at the station for about 25 years.
Juan Carlos Gómez’s body was found the following day less than 30 minutes from Aguachica, about 248 miles (400 kilometers) north of the capital, Bogotá. He had been stripped and his hands were tied. Guerrero’s body, which had also been badly beaten, was found in the river nearby on April 5, said Piñeros.
On April 6, Colombia’s leading newspaper, El Tiempo, reported that Juan Carlos Gómez might have been killed for reading a message on the air from Liberal Party presidential candidate and former interior minister Horacio Serpa.
According to the article, a right-wing paramilitary group in Cesar Department has threatened to kill anyone who campaigns for candidates other than independent front-runner Álvaro Uribe Vélez. (The first round of voting for presidential elections is scheduled for May 26, 2002.)
However, both Carvajalino and Luis Alejandro Gómez rejected the El Tiempo article and denied that Juan Carlos Gómez?who rarely if ever spoke on air?read a note from Serpa.
“He was neither a journalist nor an announcer,” said Carvajalino. “His death had nothing to do with journalism.”
Luis Alejandro Gómez said he was not sure why his son was killed, but he blamed the paramilitaries, who are said to control much of the region.
Authorities are still investigating the murder, according to Piñeros, who said that four other young men have been killed in Aguachica in the previous three months, apparently by the paramilitaries.
The outlawed paramilitary armies, known collectively as the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), are currently waging a vicious war against leftist rebels and those suspected of sympathizing with them.
Esaú Jaramillo Montaña, Caracol Radio, January 19, 2002, Bogotá
Jaramillo, a sports broadcaster for Caracol Radio in the capital, Bogotá, was found stabbed to death in his apartment, authorities said.
There is no known motive for the slaying, said Carolina Sánchez, press chief for the Attorney General’s Office.
Jaramillo was stabbed once in the abdomen and twice in the head. Neighbors told authorities that two men, both drunk, visited the journalist in his apartment the night before his body was found.
Jaramillo, 55, had been a sports broadcaster since 1964 and founded a magazine about basketball called Bajo la cesta (Beneath the Basket).
Orlando Sierra Hernández, La Patria, February 1, 2002, Manizales
Sierra, a deputy editor and columnist for La Patria newspaper in Manizales, a town in Colombia’s coffee-growing region, was shot in the head while walking to work on January 30. At least one of the bullets struck him in the head. He died on February 1.
Sierra, 42, wrote a Sunday column for the 80-year-old daily newspaper in which he frequently highlighted government corruption and human rights abuses committed by leftist guerrillas, a rival right-wing paramilitary army, and state security forces, according to sources at the paper.
Authorities arrested two men in connection with the shooting, but no motives have been disclosed, said Carolina Sánchez, spokeswoman for the Attorney General’s Office.
The men were moved from Manizales to the capital, Bogotá. Their identities were not known, and it was not clear if they belonged to any of the country’s guerrilla or paramilitary groups.
There had been no known threats against Sierra, who began working at the newspaper as a reporter 16 years ago. Violence committed by armed groups in the region has been escalating in recent years, according to local sources.
Dozens of students, journalists, and local residents marched through the streets of Manizales to protest the shooting of the popular columnist hours before he died.
Julio Samuel Morales Ferrón, El Sol de México, February 1, 2002, Mexico City
Morales, 79, a columnist with the Mexico City daily El Sol de México, was stabbed to death at around 4 p.m., according to local investigators.
The journalist, best known by his pen name “Severo Mirón” (Tough Onlooker), was gagged had stabbed several times in the chest and neck. Morales’ assistant found his body in his Mexico City office at around 5 p.m. Evidence at the scene indicated that a struggle had occurred, but the police are unsure whether one or several attackers were involved.
Morales’ relatives told El Sol de México that they did not know of any threat against him, and that he appeared to have no enemies.
Bernardo Bátiz, head of Mexico City’s Prosecutor’s Office, told the daily Reforma that robbery was not a likely motive because nothing was taken from the journalist’s office. Though Bátiz ruled out a political motivation for the murder, he declined to speculate about other possible motives, claiming that the police did not yet have enough information. A preliminary inquiry has been opened.
According to El Sol de México, Morales had been a columnist for the paper’s noon edition since 1977. He also worked as a radio host. In the 1980s, he hosted a television program called “Cuéntame un libro” (Tell me a book), on which he reviewed books. In addition, he had been a journalism professor and a songwriter.
His columns mostly chronicled the culture, traditions, history, and life of Mexico City’s people, particularly its poorest inhabitants.
El Sol de México’s director, Sergio Venegas Alarcón, told CPJ that other than a January 4 column where Morales talked about violence and crime in Mexico City, his articles did not touch on controversial issues and did not refer to any person or group directly.
Félix Alonso Fernández García, Nueva Opción, January 18, 2002, Miguel Alemán
Fernández, director of the small weekly magazine Nueva Opción, was shot and killed by unidentified assailants in the border town of Miguel Alemán, in the northern state of Tamaulipas.
The journalist, escorted by two bodyguards, was hit with at least two bullets fired with a machine gun from a moving car at around 10:50 p.m. as he was leaving a local restaurant.
The bodyguards, who were taken into police custody, told authorities that Fernández had hired them after receiving death threats for his articles, according to the Monterrey daily El Norte.
Fernández was a former editor of the Miguel Alemán daily El Heraldo, owned by the city’s former mayor Raúl Antonio Rodríguez Barrera, whose term ended on December 31, 2001. The journalist had only been working for Nueva Opción, which is owned by his father, since January 1, according to the Tijuana weekly Zeta.
On January 21, the Reynosa-based human rights organization Centro de Estudios Fronterizos y de Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (Cefprodhac) issued a communiqué blaming widespread violence, police corruption, and impunity for Fernández’s death. According to Cefprodhac, the latest issues of Nueva Opción had reported on former mayor Rodríguez’s alleged links to drug traffickers based in the border city of Matamoros.
The organization also said that Fernández had reported on alleged ties between Jorge Luis Martínez Cantú, a National Action Party politician, and local criminal organizations.
In addition, Cefprodhac stated that in April 2001, the journalist had testified as a witness for the Federal Organized Crime Unit (UEDO) in connection with a UEDO raid on the house of major drug trafficker Gilberto García Mena, where pictures and documents showing close ties between former mayor Rodríguez and García were allegedly found.
Although no formal charges have been brought against Rodríguez, Tamaulipas authorities are investigating him, according to El Norte.
The former mayor maintains that he had a cordial relationship with Fernández and that they did not have any personal disagreements.
Francisco Cayuela Villarreal, the head of the State Prosecutor’s Office, told the Mexico City daily Reforma that his agency is following several leads but insisted that he could not elaborate on them for security reasons. Cayuela, however, has suggested that the journalist, who had 1.2 ounces of cocaine on him at the time of his death, was killed in a drug deal gone bad.
Because drug trafficking is a federal crime in Mexico, the case was transferred to the Federal Prosecutor’s Office on January 25. No suspect has been detained.
José Luis Percebal, Cadena Cope, February 12, 2002, Rabat
Percebal was found dead in his home in the Moroccan capital, Rabat. Percebal, a veteran Morocco correspondent for the independent Spanish radio station Cadena Cope, had been stabbed in the back, apparently the day before.
Sources at Cadena Cope told CPJ there was no sign of forced entry at Percebal’s home, but that his cell phone was missing from the crime scene. Officials have not yet established a motive for the murder. The 47-year-old Percebal had been a correspondent in Morocco since the early 1990s.
Sergei Kalinovsky, Moskovsky Komsomolets?Smolensk, Date unknown, Smolensk
The body of 26-year-old Kalinovsky, editor-in-chief of the daily Moskovsky Komsomolets?Smolensk, was found on April 1 by a lake outside the city of Smolensk in central Russia.
Kalinovsky, who reported on local politics and crime for the Smolensk edition of the Moscow daily Moskovsky Komsomolets and the local SCS television station, disappeared on the evening of December 14, 2001.
Local police have opened a criminal investigation and are considering several possible motives for the murder, but the journalist’s colleagues told CPJ that they believe Kalinovsky was killed for his reporting.
In March 2001, Kalinovsky’s apartment was damaged by a fire that he suspected was set in retaliation for his work, according to online news service NTVRU.COM. Local investigators, however, ruled out arson as a cause.
Natalya Skryl, Nashe Vremya, March 9, 2002, Rostov-on-Don
Skryl, a business reporter working for the newspaper Nashe Vremya in the city of Rostov-on-Don in southwestern Russia, died on March 9 from head injuries sustained during an attack the night before, according to local press reports.
Skryl, 29, reported on local business issues for a newspaper owned by Rostov regional authorities.
Just before her death, the journalist was investigating an ongoing struggle for the control of Tagmet, a local metallurgical plant. Nashe Vremya editor-in-chief Vera Yuzhanskaya believes that Skryl’s death was related to her professional activities, the ITAR-TASS news agency reported.
Late on the evening of March 8, Skryl was returning to her home in the town of Taganrog, just outside Rostov-on-Don, when she was attacked from behind and struck in the head some dozen times with a heavy, blunt object.
Neighbors called an ambulance and the police after hearing her scream. Skryl was found unconscious just outside her home and taken to the Taganrog hospital, where she died the following day.
The Taganrog prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the case and is reviewing Skryl’s notebooks, audio recordings and computer diskettes, as well as interviewing her colleagues.
The investigators have ruled out robbery as a motive, given that Skryl was carrying jewelry and a large sum of cash that were not taken.