Mexico politician arrested for ‘complicity’ in journalist murder

Former mayor from Mexico’s Chihuahua state has been arrested over suspected involvement in Miroslava Breach’s 2017 killing.

Miroslava Breach, who covered the country's drug war, was one of 11 journalists murdered in 2017 [File:AFP]

A former mayor from northern Mexico’s Chihuahua state has been arrested for “complicity” in the 2017 murder of journalist Miroslava Breach, authorities have said.

A Chihuahua court “has succeeded in establishing the probable responsibility” of Hugo Amed Shultz, former mayor of Chinipas, for having “sought and provided information to an organised crime group which ordered and carried out the murder,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement without providing further details on Thursday.

Mexico is regularly rated by journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders as one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists.

Breach, who covered the country’s drug war, was one of 11 journalists murdered in 2017. More than 100 have been killed since 2000, but 90 percent of the murders remain unsolved.

Breach’s murder was the rare media killing in Mexico to lead to a conviction.

Juan Carlos Moreno, also known as ‘El Larry’, was convicted of being the “intellectual author” of the murder and sentenced in August to 50 years’ imprisonment.

During Moreno’s trial, testimony revealed that politicians recorded telephone conversations with Breach, a correspondent for La Jornada and Norte de Juarez, then turned them over to Shultz, a member of the conservative National Action Party (PAN).

The former Chinipas mayor, “with the support of former PAN leaders in Chihuahua state, pressured Miroslava Breach to reveal her sources regarding a report which indicated members of various criminal organisations … were running for elected office,” La Jornada said on Thursday after Shultz’s arrest.

Breach, a 54-year-old veteran crime and politics reporter, was shot eight times in the head on March 23, 2017, as she left her home to take her son to school.

One of her last stories was on a war between two rival capos in the Juarez drug cartel.

The latest journalist killed in Mexico was Israel Vazquez of the daily El Salmantino. Unknown gunmen attacked him on November 9 while he was covering the discovery of human remains in the violent state of Guanajuato.

In 2018, the United Nations and AFP news agency launched an award to honour journalists who risk their lives to cover human rights abuses in Mexico, in tribute to Breach and another slain journalist, Javier Valdez.

Source: AFP