Late Mexican journalist’s family demands justice

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The family of the latest journalist murdered in Mexico demanded a full investigation on Wednesday, rejecting the government’s account that he was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time. Candido Rios, a hard-hitting political reporter in the violent state of Veracruz, was gunned down outside a convenience store Tuesday along with a former police chief and his bodyguard.
Rios, 55, is the 10th journalist murdered in Mexico this year, and one of more than 100 killed since 2006 in a wave of violence that has made the country one of the most dangerous in the world for the press. According to Veracruz deputy interior minister Roberto Campa, the real target in the killing was the ex-police chief shot alongside Rios, Victor Antonio Alegria.
But Rios’s daughter Cristina Rios Nieves said she was sure her father, who had been under government protection, was assassinated for his reporting. “He used his journalism to unmask petty tyrants, denounce crimes by the powerful,” Cristina, 30, said as relatives held a vigil over Rios’s bullet-riddled body.
“I’m asking for justice, for a proper investigation,” Rios’s widow, Hilda Nieves Martinez, said through tears at the couple’s house in the small eastern town of Hueyapan de Ocampo.
She called for authorities to analyze the death threats that she and others say her husband received from the town’s former mayor Gaspar Gomez, a veteran politician whom Rios had accused of corruption.
The European Union, Norway and Switzerland also urged the authorities to investigate. “Rios’s death shows the worrying level of violence and intimidation that many journalists face in Mexico,” their embassies said in a joint statement. “We urge the Mexican authorities to use all available means to guarantee the protection of journalists.”
Rios was shot four times with high-powered weapons, and died on the way to the hospital from a bullet through his lung. Blood stains and bullet casings could still be seen Wednesday morning at the parking lot where the three victims fell. Rios’s family mourned him at their small home, protected with barbed-wire fencing, metal bars and surveillance cameras.
Rios was well-known locally for his decade-long career at the newspaper Diario de Acayucan, where he reported on politics and government corruption.
The newspaper’s editor, Cecilio Perez, described Rios as a born journalist a country boy who grew up poor and only finished middle school but talked his way into a job as a local correspondent, with a dual role as newspaper vendor.
Despite his humble background, “Pabuche,” as he was known, made a name for himself with detail-packed reports on local politics and the misdeeds of public officials. In a video recorded before his death, Rios appeared to anticipate he might be killed.
“You gun us down… knowing that our arms don’t fire bullets, only truths,” he said in the message, released on Wednesday.

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