1 November 2006


Cameraman killed, photographer wounded in Oaxaca police shooting; four suspects identified

Incident details

Brad Will, Osvaldo Ramírez

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(RSF/IFEX) - RSF is deeply shocked at the death of US cameraman Brad Will, of the US news agency Indymedia, during a violent police attack on a demonstration by teachers in the southern state of Oaxaca on 27 October 2006. Photographer Osvaldo Ramírez, of the daily newspaper "Milenio", was shot in the leg but is in stable condition.

RSF called for Oaxaca state Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz to be summoned before the new prosecutor's office dealing with attacks on press freedom. The demonstrators called for his resignation. In 2005, he had the daily "Noticias de Oaxaca" closed down for nearly six months. RSF also urged federal authorities to investigate him and the Oaxaca municipal police, which RSF said had become a militia used by local officials.

"We are horrified by this escalation of violence," RSF said. "The mood of revolt in Oaxaca must end."

Will (whose real name is Wheyler), 36, was shot dead with a bullet in his chest while reporting on a protest in front of the town hall of Santa Lucia del Camino (15 kilometres from Oaxaca city) by the Oaxaca People's Assembly (APPO), which brings together 70,000 teachers and social workers. He sustained the wound when police and agents of the governor opened fire on a barricade built by the demonstrators, and died while being transported to hospital.

The authorities in Santa Lucía del Camino, in the Southern State of Oaxaca, have identified four people as suspects in the fatal shooting. They are: municipal policeman Juan Carlos Soriano; municipal personnel chief Manuel Aguilar; public security director and member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controls the state government, Abel Santiago Zárate; and Pedro Carmona, a former paramilitary member.

Several Santa Lucia del Camino residents formally identified the officials. The municipal authorities confirmed that they are suspected of firing the shots, Indymedia said. Aguilar, Zárate and Carmona have been arrested. A fifth person was also reportedly involved in the killing.

According to Agence France-Presse, a dozen clashes occurred in the town and vicinity, during which two other people were killed. Five protesters were killed during earlier APPO demonstrations, calling for pay increases.

Oaxaca, one of Mexico's poorer states, has been in turmoil for more than a year. The teachers' protests began on 22 May; since 14 June they have been demanding the governor's dismissal.


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