Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Mexican Journalist Arrested

(CEPET/IFEX) - Miguel Badillo Cruz, the editor of "Contralínea" and"Fortuna" magazines, was arrested by police near his home in Mexico City onthe morning of 16 January 2009. The editor has been charged with "insult to authorities" (desacato) by a judge in Jalisco state.

He is currently under "administrative arrest", having apparently been detained on a warrant issued by a civil court at the request of the Multigas company, which is owned by the Grupo Zeta Gas, a consortium headed by Jesús Alonso Zaragoza López. However, according to Badillo Cruz's lawyer, Horacio Gómez Mendieta, the arrest warrant and associated documents could not be located at the court.

Ana Lilia Pérez Mendoza, a "Contralínea" reporter against whom an arrest warrant has also been issued, said that the actions against Badillo Cruzare linked to a series of lawsuits that Grupo Zeta Gas launched against both the editor and herself. The lawsuits were launched after Pérez Mendoza and Badillo Cruz wrote several reports about allegations of corruption in contracts between Pemex, Mexico's state-owned petroleum company, and GrupoZeta Gas.

"They had already on previous occasions threatened us because of the corruption allegations published in 'Contralínea'. They, accompanied bypolice officers, raided our offices in attempt to take our files andequipment. We were told that they would 'do away with us'. Zaragoza's lawyers warned us that the 80 companies that form their consortium were going to file lawsuits against us," Pérez Mendoza said.

Gómez Mendieta said that a complaint has been filed with the Federal District Human Rights Commission regarding Badillo Cruz's arrest since he believes that the editor was illegally detained. It has been said that Badillo Cruz refused to receive the court summonses that were sent to him, but he has said that he was never notified of any orders to appear in court.

A judge recently ordered an investigation into the personal bank accounts of both Badillo Cruz and Pérez Mendoza in order to determine the quantity of the fine that the journalists would have to pay in one of the lawsuits. CEPET condemns the manner in which Badillo Cruz was detained and the judicial harassment of both "Contralínea" magazine and its staff.

Source: Center for Journalism and Public Ethics (CEPET), Mexico City

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