Journalists are up in arms over a decision by the state of Tabasco Attorney’s Office (PGJE) to close the investigation into the January 2007 disappearance of journalist Rodolfo Rincón Taracena on the grounds that he is now said to have been kidnapped and killed by members of a criminal gang known as Los Zetas, who burned the body.
“The investigation cannot be closed until the authorities have legally demonstrated that the human remains found in a search of a property are those of Rodolfo Rincón,” a colleague told Reporters Without Borders.
A reporter for the Tabasco Hoy daily, Rincón disappeared in Villahermosa, the capital of the southeastern state of Tabasco, on 20 January 2007.
Members of the Tabasco Hoy management and staff have criticised irregularities in the investigation. “It is not normal that the PGJE let so much time go by before releasing information that it knew as early as April 2007, when Rincón’s remains were reportedly found,” one of them said.
They also pointed out that the Federal Attorney’s Office (PGR) already closed the case last year on the grounds that it “could not confirm the results of the investigation” although it turned out that the Tabasco state prosecutor’s office had all the information. Investigators never even asked Tabasco Hoy’s representatives to make a statement.
According to statements reportedly made by detained suspects, Rincón was kidnapped, tortured, mutilated and killed by members of Los Zetas, a paramilitary group involved in extortion and drug trafficking, because of what he had reported. Rincón had just written a story about drug dealing in the Villahermosa neighbourhoods of Atasta and Tamulté in which he named dealers.
Reporters Without Borders supports the position of Tabasco Hoy’s journalists. The federal and Tabasco state authorities cannot close the case until all its aspects have been confirmed.
Three journalists have been killed since the start of this year in Mexico, which is the hemisphere’s deadliest country for the news media.