Prosecutor for crimes against freedom of expression in Mexico to investigate killing of journalist "El Choco"

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  • August 15, 2013

By Alejandro Martínez

The assassination of Mexican reporter Armando “El Choco” Rodríguez, committed in 2008, will be the first homicide case taken up by the federal government's Special Prosecutor's Office on Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression, reported El Diario de Juárez.

The head of the agency Laura Angelina Borbolla Moreno, who participated this week in a workshop in Ciudad Juárez (on the border with the United States) on the prevention of crimes against freedom of expression, said she has already received the files on the case from the State of Chihuahua's Attorney General.

Rodríguez, a reporter who covered the police beat for El Diario de Juárez, was killed in his car on November 13, 2008 as he prepared to take his daughter to school. Despite creating a national uproar, the case stalled in the hands of Chihuahua state authorities for more than four years.

A 2012 reform in the federal penal codes, along with new laws passed in May explaining how the reform will be implemented, established new faculties for the prosecutor's office, which can now take up any case related to crimes against journalists -- which usually are classified as common law crimes and fall under the authority of states -- and turn them into federal investigations.

The prosecutor's office has been criticized as inefficient and is being closely observed by national and international journalism organizations. Last week, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a report about the agency's hesitations to look at the killings of journalists that have occurred since the office's new powers went into effect in May.

According to El Diario, the prosecutor's office has looked into 29 criminal cases against journalists and begun investigating five cases related to aggressions and abuses of power in the states of Veracruz, Puebla, Distrito Federal, Oaxaca and Tabasco.

*Correction 08/16/2013: The original version of this story incorrectly stated the Special Prosecutor's Office on Crimes Committed against Freedom of Expression was a new agency. The office was created in 2006 during the administration of President Vicente Fox and was reestructured in 2010. The head of the office Laura Borbolla was put in charge in 2012. New laws that went into effect in May this year gave the prosecutor's office new abilities to take up any case of crimes against journalists from the states' jurisdiction.

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.