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Former police commander sentenced to 30 years in prison for 2016 murder of Mexican journalist

After a weeklong hearing, a court in Oaxaca found former police commander Jorge Armando Santiago Martínez guilty of the 2016 murder of journalist Marcos Hernández Bautista, according to a March 4 release from the Oaxaca Attorney General. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison and ordered to pay 178,000 pesos in damages (about $9,077). A motive was not mentioned.

Hernández was shot multiple times while getting out of his car in San Andrés Huaxpaltepec on the night of Jan. 21, 2016. The 38-year-old correspondent for Noticias Voz e Imagen of Oaxaca was the first journalist killed in Mexico that year.

Santiago Martínez, a commander of the municipal police of Santiago Jamiltepec, and another person attacked the journalist that night, according to Noticias Voz e Imagen. The former commander was arrested on Feb. 25, 2016.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported that shortly before the murder, Hernández started receiving threatening phone calls after a fake story about an alleged land grab was posted on Facebook and made to look like a story from Noticias Voz e Imagen. Hernández, who had written on land theft as part of his job, was not involved with the story, an editor and colleagues told CPJ.

"We applaud Mexican authorities for this conviction in the murder of journalist Marco Hernández Bautista," said Carlos Lauría, senior program coordinator for the Americas at CPJ, according to a press release. "While this is an encouraging first step toward addressing anti-press violence, justice will remain incomplete until the mastermind has been apprehended. We urge Mexican authorities to identify and prosecute the intellectual author of the crime and break the cycle of deadly violence against the media."

Convictions for the murder of journalists are rare in Mexico. The country ranks 6th in CPJ’s 2016 Global Impunity Index, which records countries where the murderers of journalists go free.

Hernández also contributed to radio stations in the area and worked as a municipal councilor of culture in Santiago Jamiltepec. According to Noticias Voz e Imagen, he was a leader of Partido Movimiento de Regeneración Nacional (Morena).

On the one year anniversary of his death, Noticias Voz e Imagen wrote an article quoting family members and colleagues who were honoring the journalist. The news outlet reported that Delfina Guzmán, Hernández’s mother and former municipal president of Santiago Jamiltepec, had told her son months before he was killed, “Son, do not write in the newspaper, someday they’ll kill you.”


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