Latin America & Caribbean

Mexico reporter Regina Martinez's murderer sentenced

Undated file photo of Regina Martinez
Image caption Regina Martinez worked the crime beat at news magazine Proceso

A judge in Mexico has sentenced a man to 38 years in prison over the 2012 murder of crime reporter Regina Martinez Perez.

Jorge Antonio Hernandez Silva was found guilty of homicide and robbery.

Regina Martinez, a correspondent for news magazine Proceso, was found beaten and strangled to death in her home in Xalapa, in eastern Veracruz state.

The prosecution says Hernandez confessed the crime, but colleagues of Ms Martinez say he was set up.

Ms Martinez had been working for the investigative news magazine Proceso for 10 years when her brothers reported finding her body in her home.

String of killings

Before that, she had worked for local newspapers in the Veracruz region. She often wrote about drug cartels and political corruption.

At the time of her murder, the Veracruz state government said that all lines of investigation would be exhausted, and that "the fact that she was a journalist is one of them".

Six months later, Hernandez was arrested and prosecutors said he confessed to the robbery and murder.

In an opinion piece in Proceso, Ms Martinez's colleagues said that there had been inconsistencies in the investigation leading to Hernandez's conviction.

They said that fingerprints found in Ms Martinez's home did not match those of Hernandez.

"We didn't believe [the legal system] then, and we don't believe them now," Proceso's op-ed piece reads, "and we still don't know who the real culprits are."

Many journalists in Veracruz believe Ms Martinez was not killed as part of a robbery gone wrong but because of her investigative work.

They say her murder in April 2012, that of photojournalists Gabriel Huge and Guillermo Luna in May, as well as the killing of crime reporter Victor Baez in June, are part of a campaign of violence and intimidation against journalists who investigate alleged links between drug traffickers and politicians in the state of Veracruz.

According to the US-based pressure group Committee to Protect Journalists, Veracruz is one of Mexico's most dangerous states for the press, with rival drug gangs vying for control and silencing those who stand in their way.

Prosecutors say they are still searching for a second suspect in the murder of Ms Martinez, a minor drug dealer on the run from police.

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