Court revokes sentence of man accused of killing Mexican journalist after torture claims, lack of evidence

  • By
  • August 12, 2013

By Alejandro Martínez

A court in the Mexican state of Veracruz revoked on Aug. 8 the sentence against a man who claimed to have been tortured in order to confess to murdering Mexican journalist Regina Martínez, reported news magazine Proceso.

In April, Jorge Antonio Hernández “El Silva” was sentenced to 38 years and two months in prison for the crime.

However, the State Supreme Court of Justice (TSJE in Spanish) determined that the judicial process had violated Hernández's rights, who lacked proper legal representation and confessed to the crime after being tortured. His confession was the only evidence the state used to charge Hernandez, stated Proceso.

“The sentence is solely supported by the confession of [Hernández], which was obtained through tortured and should not be granted as valid," concluded the Court in its decision.

The Office of the Attorney General of Veracruz said through a press release that it “respects but does not share” the opinion of the TSJE, claiming that “the constitutional and human rights of Jorge Antonio Hernández Silva were respected throughout the entire judicial process."

The magazine Proceso called Hernández's exoneration "an important step" in finding out the true circumstances of the crime.

"This finding confirms what we have been saying since the beginning, that we would remain skeptical until what happened with Regina was truly demonstrated. This means that the investigation is still open and that things did not occur as they were stated, so we hope that the lines of investigation take into the account Regina's journalistic work," a spokesperson for Process told the daily El País.

Following the news, Reporters Without Borders called authorities to find the those responsible for the crime.

This case is not closed," said the organization.“The investigation needs to restart in a serious manner, taking into account the professional activities of the journalist and with the goal of capturing those who planned and carried out this killing."

Late last year, Veracruz authorities detained Hernández and presented him as one of the men responsible for Martínez's killing in April 2012, stating the motive was a robbery and dismissing her work as a reporter as a motive for the crime.

However, a day before Hernández's exoneration, the federal special prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression Laura Borbolla declared that there are indications that Martínez's work could have motivated the crime, reported Proceso.

Martínez was a correspondent for Proceso in Veracruz, one of the most dangerous places for journalists in the continent. Days before her death, Martínez had published an article about the detention of nine police officials who were associated with drug trafficking, according to Reporters Without Borders. Jorge Carrasco, another reporter for Proceso and a colleague of Martínez, has received death threats for his reporting on the case.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.