Police commander arrested for murder of journalist in Mexico

A municipal policeman has been arrested as a suspect for the Jan. 21 murder of Oaxaca correspondent Marcos Hernández Bautista, the first of four journalists killed in Mexico this year.

Jorge Armando Santiago Martínez, a commander of the municipal police of Santiago Jamiltepec, was arrested on Feb. 25, according to Proceso.

The head of the state prosecutor’s office identified a second man allegedly involved with the murder and committed to continuing investigations until that person is delivered and the masterminds are identifiedEl Excelsior reported. Authorities said the second suspect has been incarcerated for several days for the murder of a woman, according to Imparcial.

No motive was given for Hernández's murder, Imparcial reported.

Hernández was shot in the head while getting into his car late on the night of Jan. 21 in San Andrés Huaxpaltepec in the Costa Region of Oaxaca state.

In addition to working as a correspondent for Diario Noticias, Voz e Imagen of Oaxaca, he was also a municipal councilor of culture in Santiago Jamiltepec and a contributor to radio stations in Pinotepa Nacional and Santiago Jamiltepec, according to Diario Noticias, Voz e Imagen.

After his death, freedom of expression organization Article 19 México reported that the editorial director of Diario Noticias, Voz e Imagen told the organization, “Marcos had expressed fear because in some publications he had touched on political interests and those interests of chiefs in the region.”

A source told the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) that Hernández had been threatened because of his reporting, according to the organization.

CPJ lists Hernández’s murder in their “motive confirmed” category, which is reserved for cases in which the organization is “reasonably certain” that the journalist was murdered for his work.

However, Proceso reported that after the murder, a possible motive emerged that Hernández was killed because he could become a candidate for the municipal presidency of Jamiltepec.

Hernández is one of four journalists killed in Mexico this year.

A day after Hernández’s murder, community radio station host Reynel Martínez Cerqueda was also killed in Oaxaca. The body of kidnapped Veracruz journalist Anabel Flores Salazar was found in Puebla on Feb. 9. And most recently, radio station owner Moisés Dagdug Lutzow was killed in the state of Tabasco on Feb. 20.

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.