Monday, November 13, 2006

Mexican editor found dead in Pacific resort city

ZIHUATANEJO, Mexico — A newspaper editor who recently had run stories about organized crime and city government corruption was found dead Friday in a hotel room in this Pacific resort city. An acquaintance who was with him the last time he was seen alive remained missing.

Misael Tamayo Hernandez, editor of "El Despertar de la Costa," was found nearly naked, with his hands tied behind his back, in a room of the Venus Motel on a highway, Zihuatanejo police officials said.

He was lying on a bed, covered only with a sheet, and investigators found three puncture marks on his body, one in his right hand and two others in a forearm. The cause of death was a heart attack, forensic investigators said.

Authorities did not know the whereabouts of a businessman who left the newspaper with Tamayo Hernandez to have breakfast Thursday morning.

Tamayo Hernandez, who was well-respected in the local journalistic community, had published a story on Thursday alleging that city officials had given illegal discounts on water services to individuals and businesses. Thursday's edition also contained stories on organized crime.

Workers at the motel said they saw the editor arrive in a gray Volkswagen Jetta about 1:25 a.m. Friday, and that the car then left again at 2:30 a.m. It was not clear if the witnesses were able to see who was with him when he arrived or who was driving when the car left. The body was found about 7:30 a.m., said area District Attorney Raciel Gonzalez.

Numerous journalists have been attacked or killed in recent years in Mexico, presumably as revenge for unfavorable reports on criminals, including drug traffickers and corrupt government officials.

The state of Guerrero, which includes Zihuatanejo, and the neighboring state of Michoacan also have suffered in recent months from a wave of violence characterized by decapitations, shootings and grenade explosions that authorities attribute to warring drug trafficking gangs.

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