Mexico City – The government of Mexico's Morelos state has asked the federal Attorney General's Office for assistance in investigating the murder of journalist Rene Orta Salgado, whose body was found over the weekend in the trunk of his automobile, state officials said.
State prosecutors are already "in touch with authorities from the Attorney General of the Republic's Office so that, via the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes against Freedom of Expression, it can participate and work on this investigation," the Morelos Attorney General's Office said.
The Morelos bar association, media outlets and human rights groups have been asked to take part in the investigation "as coadjuncts of the prosecutor's office for homicides" to ensure there is transparency, the AG's office said.
Detailed information about the progress being made in the investigation will be released on Friday, the AG's office said.
Orta Salgado was stabbed in the chest and abdomen, beaten and strangled, media reports said, citing acting Morelos AG Mario Vazquez Rojas.
"The way in which the homicide was perpetrated is not common. This is the only case of deprivation of life that we have with these characteristics," Vazquez told the El Universal newspaper.
Orta Salgado's body was discovered Sunday afternoon in a neighborhood in Cuernavaca, the capital of Morelos, located about 90 kilometers (some 55 miles) from Mexico City, the AG's office said.
The journalist's face was covered with a traditional multi-colored bandanna, officials said.
Orta Salgado's relatives, who had reported him missing on Saturday, identified the body, prosecutors said.
Relatives told authorities that Orta Salgado was last seen at an establishment in the northern section of Cuernavaca Friday night and early Saturday, the AG's office said.
Orta Salgado organized a group last December to help elect Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto, media reports said.
Attacks on journalists "are systematic in Mexico" and the issue gets little attention, with inadequate justice in cases involving attacks or abuses of power against journalists, the CNDH, Mexico's equivalent of an ombudsman's office, said over the weekend.
A total of 580 complaints have been received from journalists since 2005 and 69 protective orders have been issued, the commission said.
The Foundation for Freedom of Expression, or Fundalex, said in a statement released Monday that seven journalists and media outlets have been attacked in Mexico in the past few days, with officials or people linked to politicians possibly involved in three of the incidents.
The killing of Orta Salgado, a former El Sol de Cuernavaca reporter, is among the most serious incidents, the Fundalex said.
Gerardo Ponce de Leon, editor of the Marquesina Politica Web site, was threatened and beaten with a pipe by two men at his office on May 10.
Gunmen opened fire on May 7 on the offices of the Hora Cero newspaper in Reynosa, a city in the northeastern state of Tamaulipas, while the offices of Megaradio Guadalajara were attacked on May 10 and the Nuevo Laredo daily El Mañana was attacked on May 11, the Fundalex said.
"Due to the situation created by the attacks on journalists," a weekly tally of attacks on the press in Mexico will now be kept, the press rights group said.
Mexico, where nearly 80 journalists have been murdered and several others have disappeared since 2000, is considered the world's second most dangerous country for members of the media.