Tag Archive | "murder"

Mexico: Missing Journalist Found Dead in Veracruz


Anabel Flores Salazar was found dead on Tuesday (photo: Facebook)

Anabel Flores Salazar was found dead on Tuesday (photo: Facebook)

The body of a kidnapped Mexican journalist was found on Tuesday, half-naked, bound, and with a bag over her head, along the side of a highway in the state of Puebla, Mexico. Showing signs of torture, an autopsy determined that the 32-year-old journalist died of asphyxiation.

According to the Veracruz Attorney General’s Office, the reporter from El Sol de Orizaba, Anabel Flores Salazar, was abducted from her home in Orizaba, Veracruz, early Monday morning when armed men entered the building.

Flores Salazar’s aunt, Sandra Luz Salazar, who was in the house at the time, said she saw at least eight men dressed in military uniforms – who claimed they had a warrant for the journalist’s arrest – force her into one of three grey trucks outside.

Veracruz State Governor, Javier Duarte Ochoa, tweeted soon after a confirmation that the vehicles used in the abduction were reported stolen.

This tragedy is only the latest example of the dangers journalists face in Mexico’s southern states.

In a report published by ARTICLE 19, an independent human rights organisation working to protect and promote the right to freedom of expression, the group explores “the disappearances and forced disappearances of those exercising freedom of expression in Mexico.”

The report, presented on 9th February 2016, outlines the circumstances of the disappearances of 23 journalists in Mexico from 2003 to 2015, identifying that 96% of cases involved journalists writing about corruption and security issues related to criminal organisations and public officials on municipal, state, and federal levels.

In Veracruz, where the latest murder took place, the state has a particularly terrible reputation of impunity for crimes against journalists. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has criticised Duarte Ochoa and his government for being “incapable and unwilling to prosecute crimes against the press.”

Futhermore, CPJ’s senior program coordinator for the Americas, Carlos Lauria, has accused Veracruz authorities of a “history of denigrating the activities of local journalists without providing any concrete evidence.”

CPJ’s existing research indicates that of the 11 journalists killed in Mexico in direct relation to their work between 2011 and 2015, six were either killed or had reported in Veracruz. Impunity is often cited as one of the main causes for violence against journalists in the southern state.

In a global perspective, The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) also released a report on 3rd February 2016 of the 2,297 global media deaths from 1990 to 2015, 120 of which occurred in Mexico, according to the report. These figures place Mexico as the third most dangerous country for journalists and media staff after Iraq, with 309 deaths; and the Philippines, with 146.

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Venezuela: Opposition Leader Shot Dead


A Venezuelan opposition leader was shot to death in public on Wednesday at a campaign rally for the upcoming congressional elections.

Luis Manuel Díaz was a leader of the party Acción Democratica (AD) in the town of Altagracia de Orituco. He was on the stage when he was shot at by a gunman at close range. Lilian Tintori, the wife of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, was also at the event.

Tintori has become well-known across the country since her husband’s arrest. She tweeted today that “The blood of Luis Manuel splashed [her] onstage.”

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro sent his condolences to Diaz’s family, reported the BBC.

“An investigation has been opened and the Interior Ministry has strong indications that it was a clash between rival criminal gangs,” said Maduro.

But the leader of the AD, Henry Ramos Allup, claimed the attack was committed by the government.

This is not the first incident of violence the country has experienced in the lead up to elections next month. Two opposition party members have reported being attacked and confronted by armed men in the past month.

However Maduro urged caution and said to not jump to conclusions, reported the BBC.

The oil-rich nation has elections coming up in less than two weeks and Maduro’s government has a strong coalition opposition to compete against.

 “Whatever happens, the Venezuelan people will go to the polls on 6th December, and we will win,” said Ramos Allup in a press conference.

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Mexico: Activist Leading Search for Students Killed


Miguel Ángel Jiménez Blanco was found shot dead on Saturday night in the city of Xaltianguis, Guerrero.

Jímenez Blanco had been a central figure in the search for the 43 missing students of the Ayotzinapa rural school, who went missing in Iguala last September, sparking nationwide protests. He was found dead in the driver’s seat of his car with a single wound to the head. The activist had received death threats in the past.

The disappearance of the 43 students ignited protests all over Mexico. (Photo by Montecruz Foto)

The disappearance of the 43 students ignited protests all over Mexico. (Photo by Montecruz Foto)

After the disappearance of the students on 26th September, and outraged by the absence of the government in the search for them, Jiménez Blanco took matters in his own hands and headed brigades digging the hills of the state of Guerrero searching for bodies and clues. Over 60 mass graves, containing the bodies of at least 129 people, have been uncovered in the search for the students.

In 2014, Jiménez Blanco was appointed by Upoeg (Union of Peoples and Organizations of Guerrero State) as commander of the community police.

He also helped organise Los Otros Desaparecidos de Iguala (The Others Disappeared of Iguala), an organisation mainly consisting of women who meet up every Sunday in search of their missing loved ones.

A police investigation into his death has been opened.

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Brazil: Surfer Ricardo dos Santos Shot Dead by Policeman


Dos Santos and his girlfriend Karoline Esser (photo courtesy of Karoline Esser on Instagram)

Dos Santos and his girlfriend Karoline Esser (photo courtesy of Karoline Esser on Instagram)

Brazilian surfer Ricardo dos Santos was shot by an off-duty policeman outside his house on Monday, and died in hospital the following day.

Dos Santos, 24, is said to have approached two men who were in a car parked in front of his house in Guarda do Embau beach, near the southern city of Florianopolis. Versions differ as to whether he approached them to request they move the car or to ask them to stop taking drugs in public. According to witnesses, one of the men drew a gun and shot the surfer three times in his chest and abdomen.

Ricardinho, as he was known, was taken to São José hospital by helicopter. However, after four surgeries to repair a perforated lung and kidney, he died of his injuries.

The main suspect is an off-duty military police officer, who was in the car with his 17-year-old brother. Both men were arrested following the incident, however the brother was later released. The police officer, Luiz Paulo Mota Brentano, claims to have acted in self-defence.

The international surfing community has expressed shock and sadness at the news. Multiple world champion Kelly Slater called Ricardinho’s dead “a senseless loss of life” and added that “our small community has lost another way too soon”.

Current world champion, Brazilian Gabriel Medina, who was friends with Dos Santos, said on Instagram: “Ricardinho, you didn’t deserve this! Never! Why does this happen to good people? I don’t understand,” and called his friend “an example of a person” who was always helping others and smiling.

Billabong issued a statement in remembrance of “a team rider and dear friend, and an inspiration to all who knew him (…) When not traveling the globe in search of giant barrels, Ricardo spent time at home helping around the house and surfing with local groms. He was also a proud Brazilian who supported his local community.”

After a night-long wake, Dos Santos was buried in the Paulo Lopes cemetery in Santa Catarina today.

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Colombia: Man Arrested over Venezuelan Politician’s Death


Robert Serra casting his vote in 2010, when he became the youngest member of the National Assembly (photo courtesy of Robert Serra's official facebook page)

Robert Serra casting his vote in 2010, when he became the youngest member of the National Assembly (photo courtesy of Robert Serra’s official facebook page)

Colombian officers have arrested Leiva Padilla in connection with last month’s murder of Venezuelan legislator Robert Serra and his partner María Herrera.

Padilla, aka ‘El Colombia’, was detained in a shopping centre in Cartagena by agents working for the Colombian National Investigation Authority, Dijín. A warrant had been emitted by Interpol for his arrest.

The couple were stabbed to death in their Caracas apartment on 1st October in a planned attack that Venezuelan officials have said involved a group of six “paramilitaries directed from Colombia”.

Padilla, who is thought to have been the mastermind behind the murders, is the 11th person to be arrested in connection with the murders, and Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has accused two police officials of being involved.

Serra, a 27-year-old criminal lawyer, was the youngest member of Venezuela’s National Assembly. A prominent lawmaker with close ties to President Nicolás Maduro, he was widely known as a pro-Chávez youth leader, and also for his strong statements in the assembly. He was elected in 2010.

In 2012 Serra’s bodyguard, Alexis Barreto, was killed. His body was found in a hill in the capital Caracas, and it was confirmed to have been a targeted assassination, as neither the money he was carrying nor his gun were taken.

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Paraguay: Ypehu Mayor Wanted for Murder of Journalist


The killing took place in Canindeyú, which borders Brazil in north Paraguay

The killing took place in Canindeyú, which borders Brazil in north Paraguay

The mayor of Ypehu, district of Canindeyú, has been accused of being involved in the murder of journalist Pablo Medina and his assistant Antonia Almada last week and is wanted by the police.

Mayor Vilmar Acosta and his brother, Wilson Acosta, remain at large. According to the prosecutor in charge of the case, Wilson Acosta was identified by a witness —Almada’s sister Juana, who was travelling with them— as the killer. He was allegedly accompanied by his nephew, Gustavo Acosta, and a third person, who remains unidentified.

Both Wilson and Gustavo Acosta were wanted by police for the murder of former Ypehu mayor Julián Núñez on 1st August. Prosecutor Néstor Cañete has found other links between the cases, such as the weapons used —a 9mm pistol and 12-gauge shotgun.

According to ABC Color, the newspaper where Medina worked, Vilmar Acosta was going to give himself in, but two reasons made him change his mind. The first reason was the appointment of prosecutor Sandra Quiñónez to the case, and the second was a raid carried out at the town hall, where the police found stolen cars, marijuana seeds, ammunition, and balaclavas —all evidence allegedly linked to the murder of Medina.

Medina and Almada were killed on Thursday 16th October as they travelled by car in Villa Ygatimí, Canindeyú. Medina, who had worked for ABC Color for 16 years, reported on the local traffic of marijuana and had been threatened several times.

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Venezuela: Government Legislator Robert Serra Killed


Robert Serra casting his vote in 2010, when he became the youngest member of the National Assembly (photo courtesy of Robert Serra's official facebook page)

Robert Serra casting his vote in 2010, when he became the youngest member of the National Assembly (photo courtesy of Robert Serra’s official facebook page)

Venezuela’s Justice Minister, Miguel Rodríguez Torres, has announced that Robert Serra, a legislator from the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV) had been found dead in his apartment in the capital Caracas along with his partner, María Herrera.

Serra, a 27-year-old criminal lawyer, was the youngest member of the National Assembly. A prominent lawmaker with close ties to President Nicolás Maduro, he was widely known as a pro-Chávez youth leader, and also for his strong statements in the assembly. He was elected in 2010.

In a press conference this afternoon, Rodríguez Torres confirmed that the murders were “intricately planned” and that they were not a result of a regular criminal act, such as a robbery, but seemed to be pre-meditated assassinations. Both were killed using “long stabbing objects”, although further details have not been given.

Maduro reacted to the news, paying tribute to Serra via Twitter: “We’re immensely sad about the murder of Robert Serra, Bolivarian pro-Chávez leader. May God lift you to His glory […] Robert, we will continue your example, loyal and steady on the path of the Revolution that you always defended passionately.”

The murders took place at around 10pm last night. Rodríguez Torres said that further details could not be disclosed until a full investigation had taken place. He also refused to give a possible motive for the killings.

In 2012 Serra’s bodyguard, Alexis Barreto, was killed. His body was found in a hill in the capital Caracas, and it was confirmed to have been a targeted assassination, as neither the money he was carrying nor his gun were taken.

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Peru: Four Indigenous Anti-Logging Activists Killed


Edwin Chota was one of the four xxx

Edwin Chota was one of the four Ashaninka men killed

Four Peruvian tribal leaders have been shot dead on their way to a meeting to discuss ways to stop illegal logging. The group, who were from the Amazonian Ashaninka community, were killed near the border with Brazil, and included outspoken anti-logging campaigner Edwin Chota.

Chota was the leader of the Alto Tamaya-Saweto community, and had received several death threats from illegal loggers, who are thought to have been behind the killings.

“He threatened to upset the status quo,” said David Salisbury, a professor at the University of Richmond who was advising Chota on his community’s quest for land titles and had known him for a decade. “The illegal loggers are on record for wanting Edwin dead.”

The group were killed on 1st September, but news has only just filtered out of the killings due to the remoteness of the location.

The president of the Ashaninka organisation Aconamac, Reyder Sebastián Quinticuari, said: “Our people have always defended our resources and have faced illegal loggers who see our reserves as places to exploit.”

Peru’s main indigenous federation, AIDESEP, expressed outrage at police and the judiciary in a statement for “doing absolutely nothing despite repeated complaints” to protect the slain men, who it said had joined “the long list of martyrs who fell in defence of their ancestral lands”.

According to a 2012 World Bank report, an estimated 80% of Peruvian timber exports stem from illegal logging.

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Chile: Three More Charged over Víctor Jara’s Murder


Víctor Jara was one of the xxx (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Víctor Jara was one of the fathers of Chile’s New Song Movement (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

A judge in Santiago has charged three more former military personnel with the murder of Chilean singer Víctor Jara who was killed on 16th September 1973, just days after Augusto Pinochet’s military coup ended Salvador Allende’s government.

Former military officers Hernán Chancón Soto and Patricio Vásquez Donoso were charged with taking part in the killing, whilst ex-army prosecutor Ramón Melo Silva was charged as an accomplice. They join a list of eight other former army officers who were charged in late 2012 and early 2013 with the killing of Jara, who was a singer, songwriter, poet, political activist, and member of the Communist Party.

“This decision has to be celebrated and we hope this investigation can continue,” Jara’s widow, Joan Jara, said at a press conference. “We know this marks a milestone.”

Jara was arrested the morning after the 11th September coup and taken to the Estadio de Chile along with thousands of others. He was tortured and ultimately shot dead, and his body, riddled with 44 bullet bounds, was dumped outside the stadium. He was 40 years old.

Jara became famous in the 1960s for his protest music. He was one of the founding fathers of Chile’s “New Song Movement” which was instrumental in bringing Allende’s left-wing administration to power in 1970.

The contrast between the themes of his songs on peace and social justice and the way in which he was killed transformed Jara into a symbol for the struggle for human rights and justice during the Pinochet regime.

Jara was one of around 5,000 political prisoners taken captive during the dictatorship, over 3,000 of whom have never been seen again.

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Guilty Verdicts in French Tourists Murder Case


A monument to the murdered French tourists was inaugurated last year in the area they were found in Salta (photo: Néstor Troncoso/El Tribuno/Télam)

A monument to the murdered French tourists was inaugurated last year in the area they were found in Salta (photo: Néstor Troncoso/El Tribuno/Télam)

Three people have been found guilty for their involvement in the rape and murder of Cassandre Bouvier, 29, and Houria Moumni, 23, French tourists who were killed in Salta in 2011.

Gustavo Lasi was found guilty for double homicide, with aggravated sexual assault and theft. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Two of his co-defendants, Omar Darío Ramos and Antonio Eduardo Sandoval, were found guilty of helping to cover up the crime by hiding the murder weapon. They each received sentences of two years.

Two other defendants, Daniel Vilte Laxi and Santos Clemente Vera, also facing charges of of double homicide, with aggravated sexual assault and theft, were found not guilty.Lasi had already confessed to being at the scene of the crime and sexually assaulting one of the women, although he claimed it was Vilte Laxi and Vera who shot the girls.

However, after a trial that lasted over two months, with 200 witness testimonies, the judges – in a split decision – decided the evidence against his alleged accomplices was not sufficient.

As the trial drew to a close earlier today, the defendants were given a chance to say some last words. Lasi addressed Jean Michel Bouvier, the father of one of the victims, and the only family member present, saying: “I’m really sorry for what happened.” After the verdict was read, Bouvier said he felt that the trial had gone well.

The two victims were last seen visiting the Quebrada de San Lorenzo on 15th July 2011. Their bodies were found at the popular tourist site two weeks later.

 

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