Mexican judge orders Attorney General to take case of murdered journalist

After a year of legal delays, a federal judge has ordered Mexico’s Attorney General's Office (PGR) to investigate the murder of journalist Moisés Sánchez Cerezo through the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression (FEADLE).

Sánchez Cerezo was kidnapped from his home in Medellín de Bravo on Jan. 2, 2015 and found dead 22 days later. He was director and editor of the newspaper La Unión in Medellín de Bravo.

Following his death, the PGR denied that Sanchéz Cerezo was a journalist and instead could be categorized as a taxi driver, concluding that he was not killed because of his journalistic work, according to Article 19 Mexico.

On Jan. 28 a federal judge said that the PGR avoided recognition of the facts that would required them to take the case and that it ignored signs about the likely involvement of authorities, according to Article 19 México.

The judge said that the PGR’s arguments that Sánchez Cerezo was not accredited as a journalist as well as the lack of a link between his work as a journalist and the murder were violations of the standards of freedom of expression, according to Animal Político.

According to the judge’s order, the prosecutor in Veracruz must stop working on the case.

“The judgment as a whole reveals the structural problem of FEADLE to exercise its power of jurisdiction, which it continues to use in a discretionary and arbitrary manner. It also confirms, as we have pointed out, that the actions around the case of Moisés Seanchez tending to reject the line of investigation for his journalistic activity, are idle,” said Article 19, which has closely followed the case.

The former mayor of Medellín de Bravo was identified as the alleged mastermind of Sánchez Cerezo’s murder, but remains at large, according to Animal Político.

This is not the first time there has been a fight to get authorities to recognize the murder of a journalist in Veracruz as being related to his work.  In 2014, a mission of journalism advocacy groups pushed to link the murder of Gregorio Jiménez de la Cruz to his work as a journalist and for PGR and FEADLE to investigate 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.