EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission is urging authorities in Juarez, Mexico to solve last week’s murder of a television news anchor and guarantee the safety of working journalists in the city.
Arturo Alba Medina, 49, was shot to death last Thursday night while driving his car through an intersection near Downtown Juarez. Chihuahua state authorities are now saying he was shot at 14 times by at least two gunmen. No arrests have been made in the case as of Monday and police have not publicly disclosed a motive.
“The National Human Rights Commission emphasizes the important work of communicators […] In that sense, it stresses the obligation of the State to guarantee the journalistic work of communications in an environment of confidence and safety that allows them to address any issue of importance to the community without being the target of censorship or aggression,” the commission said in a letter to Chihuahua authorities.
The murder shocked his friends and television fans, who posted messages of disbelief, outrage and solidarity with the victim. They described him as a “good human being” and a good friend.
State Deputy Attorney General Jorge Nava told reporters Alba had just left a woman in the Hidalgo neighborhood – he didn’t say if it was a relative or a coworker – moments before he was gunned down. He said police have not identified a motive for the murder, but don’t believe he was killed because of his news coverage.
“We don’t rule out any (motive), however, it’s not very likely that is was because of his journalistic work,” Nava said.
Alba was buried Sunday in Juarez. His LinkedIn profile states that he was an accounting graduate of Juarez Technological Institute (ITCJ) and had received a master’s degree in communications from the University of Texas at El Paso.
It also lists previous jobs at Entravision in El Paso and Channel 44 in Juarez and a current job as a professor at the Juarez Technological Institute.
Caught up in old southern New Mexico public corruption probe
Alba’s resume does not list a previous job as public information officer for the City of Sunland Park, New Mexico in the early 2010’s.
According to the New Mexico courts database, Alba was one of several Sunland Park public officials or former public officials arrested in March 2012 on charges of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. A public information officer with the Doña Ana County District Attorney’s Office confirmed that the deceased journalist and the former Sunland Park spokesman are the same person.
The charges had to do with an alleged plot to force a mayoral candidate to drop out of an upcoming election. The official, Gerardo Hernandez, was secretly videotaped getting a lap dance from a topless woman. Various city officials were formally charged with some role in threatening Hernandez with the release of the video if he did not drop out of the race.
Alba entered a plea of not guilty in April 2012. His trial was set for Jan. 14, 2013 but was postponed for a future date. After the filing of several sealed documents, the Doña Ana County District Attorney’s Office in June 2015 decided not to further prosecute the case “in the best interest of justice.”