Mexico - Police suspected in death threats against publisher of local daily in Veracruz state

    MONTREAL, March 20 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is worried
about death threats made on 18 March against Auricela Castro Garcia, the
publisher of El Mundo de Orizaba, a daily based in Orizaba, in the
southeastern state of Veracruz. The aim of the threats appears to have been to
deter the newspaper from reporting that a local police inspector helped the
town's former police chief to evade arrest. "We express our solidarity with
Auricela Castro and the staff of El Mundo de Orizaba," the press freedom
organisation said. "These threats are disturbing, especially if they came from
police officers as circumstances suggest. The Veracruz judicial authorities
will have to investigate the complaint that has been made. But the police
should also investigate within their own ranks."
    Reporters Without Borders added: "It is unfortunately not unusual for
police officers to think that they can attack the press with impunity and that
the police force will cover up their crimes." Castro told Reporters Without
Borders that the threats were made in two phone calls. The first was received
by the newspaper's switchboard at about 10 pm on 18 March. Identifying himself
as José Sanchez, the caller asked to speak to the publisher "for personal
reasons." The call was transferred to the editor, who said Castro was in a
meeting and unavailable. The caller replied: "Tell her she has information,
she knows what I am talking about, and if she publishes it, she will be
killed." He then repeated the threat. A few moments late, the editor took a
call from another person identifying himself as Gumercindo Hernandez, who said
that he had been "nice until now" but "the situation could soon change" if his
demands were not heeded. In an editorial in yesterday's issue, El Mundo de
Orizaba linked these threat to the help that local police inspector Pedro
Angel Marquez allegedly gave to the town's former police chief, Alvaro Mendoza
Morales, to evade arrest. Mendoza is wanted for the 16 March shooting of a
traffic policeman, Héctor Rafael Sorcia Reyes, who tried to take him to the
police station when he was caught driving while drunk.
    Castro said that a complaint has been filed with the Veracruz state
prosecutor's office naming Marquez as main suspect in these threats. The
newspaper also promised in yesterday's issue that it would not let itself be
intimidated. "We will not be silenced, neither now nor in the future."

For further information:

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111, Cell: (514) 258-4208, Fax: (514)

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