“The mayor told me that I should give the reporter a scare because she was kicking up a lot of dirt” – Verónica Espinosa (Proceso)

~ This article was originally published by Proceso on April 2, 2016 ~

 

Editor’s Note: The politician implicated in the attack on journalist Karla Silva in Silao, Guanajuato, in September, 2014, is currently being held awaiting sentencing in May. Also being held are the municipal security officials who orchestrated the attack. The prosecution of former mayor Enrique Benjamín Solís Arzola for ordering the attack represents a victory for Silva, who pursued justice through formal, institutional avenues, despite the prevalence of impunity in such cases. -ML

 

Karla Silva. Photo from Facebook.

Karla Silva following the attack. Photo from Facebook.

Irapuato, Gto., (apro).-“The mayor was pressuring me for more than two months to give a scare to the reporter Karla Silva because she was kicking up a lot of dirt in her articles…but I played dumb, I didn’t want to do that” was the testimony given by the ex-director of Public Security in Silao, Guanajuato, Nicasio Aguirre Guerrero, “El Nikki”, before the judge in charge of criminal prosecution.

Judge José Luis Argüello Uribe decided to put the case on trial in order to reach a verdict—a verdict that could be tied with ex-mayor and PRI party member, Enrique Benjamín Solís Arzola.

Judge Argüello said that he had heard enough evidence from the district attorney to implicate Aguirre as an accessory to the crime, of which the same accusation was held against the ex-mayor, for the assault carried out against the Herald Newspaper reporter.

“There is a double investigation because the order to assault the reporter came from a higher authority who pressured another (Nicasio) to carry out the duty of silencing the journalist.” The judge concluded, and ordered that the ex-director of Security of Silao remain detained during the duration of the hearing.

In the long hearing that took place in the criminal prosecution courtrooms—from eight in the morning until nine o’clock at night, the district attorney, Yolanda Domínguez, presented all of the facts before and after the assault of journalist Karla Silva Guerrero and her partner, Adriana Elizabeth Palacios, which took place the fourth of September, 2014.

The evidence consisted of testimonials, videos, expert legal opinions, and other items, that revealed that Nicasio Aguirre was the culprit by order of the then municipal president (Arzola) in the attack on the reporter.

In concordance with the evidence, Aguirre had hired Luis Gerardo Hernández Valdenegro, Jose Samuel Ornelas, and Osvaldo Valero Garnica. He agreed to pay each of them five thousand pesos and instructed his operational coordinator, Jorge Alejandro Fonseca Durán, that he should first identify the journalist to which they were “going to give a scare” and secondly, to follow through with the assault which took place on September 4, 2014.

According to the case presented by the district attorney, it was Nicasio Aguirre who ordered the three men to “kick and slap around” Karla, and to clearly threaten her in order to “quiet down her articles.” They were given the option to steal whatever they wanted from the Herald Newspaper office once they had finished.

Jorge Alejandro Fonseco, the operational coordinator of the Police, leant a hand, which according to one of the three men hired, was because he wanted to stay on the mayor’s good side. “He wanted to end up with Nicasio’s job.”

Unexpectedly, once the district attorney concluded the presentation of her case accusing the defendant with charges for the crimes of aggravated assault, robbery, and threats, it was the same ex-police chief, Nicasio Aguirre, who asked the judge if he himself might be able to make a statement on the stand:

“Everything that happened was the mayor’s order. He was pressuring me for more than two months to give a scare to the journalist. I played dumb, but he kept insisting. And so what did I do? I told him that I didn’t know anyone that would do things like that, and I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want trouble. Three weeks before the incident he contacted me again, he said ‘what happened?’ I told him, ‘Sir, it’s that I don’t know anyone.’ He told me, ‘Tell Jorge, (Fonesca Durán, who was his subordinate as the operative coordinator of police), he knows a lot of useful people. Never mind, it’s okay, I’ll tell him myself…’”

According to Aguirre, the ex-mayor, Solís, insisted again, even though Aguirre didn’t know anyone to do “that kind of job” and later, “[Aguirre] found out from El Pelón (Fonesca Duran) that he had taken charge of the situation himself….”

At that time from the witness stand, Nicasio Aguirre, ex-chief of the Ministerial Police for nine years, agreed that the district attorney, Yolanda Domínguez, interview him. This is how the following exchange carried out before the judge as well as the victims, Karla Silva and Adriana Elizabeth Palacios, who were both present:

When you say that you were pressured by the mayor for more than two months, what mayor are you referring to?
Ex-President Enrique Benjamín Solís Arzola

Where and in what manner was he pressuring you?
He pressured me when I would relay our daily activities, or when I had contact with him in some event or another.

What was the mayor insisting that you do?
That I give the reporter a scare.

When you say that you were to “give her a scare” What does that mean?
I don’t know, a scare. I didn’t think much about it because I didn’t want to do it.

When you say that you didn’t want trouble, what are you referring to?
I am referring to the fact that I worked hard to have that job. I wanted to keep training. I didn’t want legal problems at all.

Why did the mayor want you to give a scare to the reporter?
He told me that she was kicking up all kinds of dirt, writing a lot of stories against him.

How did he tell you or how did you know that she was kicking dirt on his policies?
On one occasion I went to his office and he showed me some papers which seemed to be an article, “Look”, he said. I looked, but I didn’t read anything.

You and El Pelón spoke with the president?
We never spoke to the president. El Pelón nor I never spoke with the president, he heard it over the radio.

Did the president give you Karla’s articles?
No.

When he says that she is a journalist that needs to be roughed up, who is he referring to?
To Ms. Karla.

From what newspaper?
The Herald.

You say that because of the amount of work that you had each day, that you don’t remember the conversation…
I didn’t pay much attention to what he mentioned to me, and because of the workload I didn’t think much about it.

Do you know Luis Gerardo (Hernández Valdenegro)?
I’ve only seen him in passing, that’s it.

Did the El Pelón introduce you to Luis Gerardo?
No

You said that you knew when it had happened. How did you find out?
I was eating when they told me what had happened.

When?
The day it happened. I don’t remember.

What did you do?
I stopped eating and I left. I told my backup. I never went out alone.

What did you do afterwards?
I went out on the street.

Did you see El Pelón?
No, I heard everything on the police radio.

What happened when you met again with El Pelón?
He told me, “It’s all done,” but I had already heard it on the radio.

Did you promise payment to Luis Gerardo?
Never

Did you give Luis Gerardo the money?
No

Just so everything is clear, how did you and Mr. Jorge Alejandro talk about this incident that happened to the journalist?
Well, I had told him about three weeks earlier, I said, “Look, the president has been ordering me to do this for a few months now, but I was playing dumb,” I asked, “What would you do?”, and after I told him about that meeting, we were in the office going over a work plan, and I put the call on speaker phone. I had said to him. “He says that you know useful people, I don’t know anyone.”

And then, with all the work I had, I stopped paying attention to it.

Is it true that the mayor also asked you to give a scare to Claudia Vélez?
Yes.

When did he ask that?
A few months ago.

Did you do it?
No.

Why do you say that it was Jorge Alejandro that was in charge of everything?
Because he agreed to do it.

How do you know that?
Because he told me.

When did he tell you that?
Around that time, he told me.

When?
After I said to him, “no, you go.” Then he said to me, “I already spoke with him.”

Verónica Espinosa is a correspondent for Proceso in Guanajuato. This article was originally published under the title “El alcalde me dijo que le diera un susto a la reportera porque le echaba mucha tierra” and is available at: http://www.proceso.com.mx/435570/alcalde-me-dijo-le-diera-susto-a-la-reportera-pues-le-echaba-mucha-tierra

Translation by Allana Noyes, TBI Freedom of Expression Project Volunteer Translator

About Michael Lettieri

Program Officer at the Trans-Border Institute

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