Latin America

Veracruz governor called to testify in photojournalist’s murder case

Mexican photographer Rubén Espinosa was highly critical of Duarte’s state government

Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte.
Veracruz Governor Javier Duarte.Saúl Ramírez (EFE)

Veracruz’s controversial governor Javier Duarte has been subpoenaed by Mexico City prosecutors to testify about the murder of photojournalist Rubén Espinosa, who was found shot dead along with four women in an apartment on July 31.

Espinosa, who worked for the news weekly Proceso and the Cuartoscuro news agency, had complained that he was being followed and harassed by unknown persons while he was working in Veracruz.

Investigators continue to look at all possible motives for the murders

The 31-year-old photographer had been highly critical of the Duarte government’s apathy toward corruption and impunity in Veracruz. He and his girlfriend, university activist Nadia Vera, who was among the other victims, had moved from Veracruz to Mexico City earlier this summer after they felt they were being intimidated.

Since the murders, calls from civic organizations, journalists associations and human rights groups for a full investigation have grown louder.

A Mexico City team headed by the assistant attorney in the preliminary investigations department, Óscar Montes de Oca, was expected to meet on Tuesday with Governor Duarte and state prosecutors.

“There is a willingness on behalf of the state government of Veracruz to offer information and, in this context, I told [Duarte] that we needed a sworn statement from him,” said Mexico City Mayor Miguel Ángel Mancera, who has promised a full inquiry.

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Since Duarte of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) came to office in 2011, at least 15 journalists have been killed in his state, including Regina Martínez, one of Espinosa’s colleagues at Proceso – a case that remains unresolved.

Investigators still do not have any clear motive as to why at least three gunmen entered the Mexico City apartment on the afternoon of July 31 and shot dead Espinosa, Vera, a Colombian national, a housekeeper and another woman.

At least two of the women were sexually assaulted and badly beaten.

One suspect, a convicted rapist who is in custody, reportedly admitted that he stole items from the apartment that afternoon but denied taking part in the killings.

While robbery has been ruled out as the main motive, investigators are keeping all possible theories open, including whether the Colombian woman, Mile Virginia Martín, was the primary target of the hit.

English version by Martin Delfín.


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