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The Regina Martínez Files – OCCRP

Regina Martínez was a prominent journalist in Mexico, reporting on drug gangs and political corruption, when she was beaten and strangled to death in her home in 2012. The official investigation into her murder was deeply flawed and left many questions unanswered –– perhaps by design.

As part of an effort to reveal the truth behind Martínez’s murder, OCCRP filed Freedom of Information requests for the investigation files, and is making them public here for the first time.

The requests were made in 2020, when a group of media organizations carried out their own investigation as part of a collaborative project coordinated by Forbidden Stories. Journalists conducted interviews and combed through court documents, and published their findings in an award-winning report.

The information they found cast doubt on the theory put forward by prosecutors in Veracruz state, who had succeeded in convincing the court that Martínez was murdered by a drug-addicted male prostitute they claimed was her lover.

Martínez’s friends and colleagues insist she did not know the man. And the only person ever convicted for the murder, another addict with a troubled background, has recanted his confession, claiming he was tortured into telling police he killed Martínez.

The documents available to download below highlight many inconsistencies in that case. The files are presented in chronological order, and are divided into sections corresponding with the different stages of the case as it developed.

Mexico is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists, with at least 120 murdered in the last 20 years, including Martínez. Rights groups have been demanding that prosecutors reopen the case and release their files on her murder, but they refused to do so until last year, when they had to do so in response to journalists’ Freedom of Information requests. In November 2020, in response to questions from OCCRP and Forbidden Stories, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said the case should be reopened.

First Steps

Investigators began by interviewing Martínez’s neighbors, as well as her brothers, about any notable events before the murder. One brother mentioned a recent break-in at the property, and investigators from the Veracruz Prosecutor’s Office said it had not been reported. Also included are documents describing how officers first discovered Martínez’s body, including a transcript of a call from a police officer at the scene.

The files contain a discussion about which agencies should control the investigation. The conversation included the Public Ministry, a federal agency that is overseen by the Attorney General’s office, which was also involved. The former Special Prosecutor for Crimes Against Freedom of Expression, which often investigates attacks on journalists, later said she felt she was being blocked by local authorities in her efforts to look into Martínez’s killing.

These files are heavily redacted to comply with Mexico’s Law for the Protection of Personal Data, which authorities often interpret as forbidding them from including photos and information that could identify any person at all. Even Martínez’s name was censored throughout, although the entire case file is about her murder.

Download pages 1-120

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