According to a recent statement from the Veracruz state attorney general’s office, two police officers have been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a Mexican journalist. Accused of ordering the murder, the local mayor and the deputy police chief have both gone into hiding along with several other police officers who carried out the execution.
As the editor and publisher of a small newspaper called La Unión, Moisés Sánchez Cerezo had been critical of the local government with recent articles citing ignored public services, such as lack of sewer drainage and street lighting. On January 2, 2015, he was abducted from his home by gunmen as his family was forced to watch.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Sánchez pleaded with his assailants, “Please, don’t hurt my family.”
Three weeks later, his dismembered and decapitated body was found in a ditch in the town of Manlio Fabio Altamirano, about 25 kilometers east of Medellín de Bravo. According to a recently released statement from the Veracruz state attorney general’s office, two police officers were convicted of failure to carry out their legal duty and intentional homicide. On March 23, they were sentenced to 25 years in prison and ordered to pay approximately $18,000 in compensation.
Identified as Luigui Heriberto “N” and José Francisco “N,” the police officers participated in a drug-dealing gang along with at least six other cops while acting on the mayor’s personal orders. Angered by Sánchez’s critical coverage, then-Medellín Mayor Omar Reyes allegedly ordered Medellín deputy police chief Martín López Meneses to deploy the gang of corrupt cops in order to abduct the reporter and kill him.
“The verdict is a welcome step forward in a case that, for years, has languished in complete impunity,” said Jan-Albert Hootsen, CPJ’s Mexico representative. “In order to achieve full justice for Moisés Sánchez Cerezo, however, federal and Veracruz state authorities must now move forward and do everything in their power to bring the remaining suspects including the mastermind to trial.”
“Two convictions of former police officers for breach of their legal duties is progress, but it is not justice,” Sánchez’s son Jorge wrote in Plumas Libres, an online news organization. He told CPJ on Wednesday, “This is a miniscule step forward, but there are still many arrests to be made.”
The former mayor and deputy police chief remain in hiding along with many of the other officers suspected of murdering Sánchez. According to CPJ, at least 43 journalists have been killed in Mexico since 1994.