Mexican Journalist Killed Hours After Publishing Story About Local Officials' Involvement in Disappearance of 43 Students in 2014

A journalist was shot dead Monday afternoon in southern Mexico, authorities said, shortly after posting online about the disappearance eight years ago of 43 students from a nearby area.

Fredid Roman, who published his work on various social media pages and contributed to a local newspaper, was found dead in his car in the city of Chilpancingo, the capital of Guerrero state, the local prosecutor's office said Monday evening.

The Disappearance of the 43 Students

The case of the 43 students from Guerrero, who went missing in 2014 after commandeering a bus to head to a protest, is considered one of the worst human rights disasters in Mexican history.

In September 2014, the students, from a teacher's college in Guerrero, were traveling in two buses they had commandeered to stage a protest in Iguala, a city two hours away by car, as reported by CNN.

Sometime between the night of September 26, 2014 and the following morning, the buses were intercepted by local police and the federal military forces in Iguala, according to authorities at the time. The bullet-riddled buses could later be seen in the city's streets.

2014 Iguala kidnapping
Demonstrators take to the streets demanding answers to the disappearance of the 43 students. Twitter

The windows had been shattered by the bullets and there was blood everywhere. And 43 students had gone missing. Other students who were on the buses later spoke of a night of horror. Armed police officers and soldiers stopped the buses and suddenly opened fire, they said.

It is not yet known what happened to the students, but the government investigation concluded that 43 of the students were taken into custody and were handed over to the local Guerreros Unidos ("United Warriors") drug cartel and probably killed. The remains of only three students were discovered and identified.

"There is no evidence that they are alive," said the deputy director of Mexico's Human Rights Commission, Alejandro Encinas of the missing students. "To the contrary, all testimony and evidence suggest they were cunningly killed and disappeared."

'State Crime Without Charging the Boss'

Fredid Roman
The car in which Fredid Roman was shot and killed by an unknown gunman. Twitter

The case was forced back into the spotlight last week when a truth commission branded the atrocity a "state-sponsored crime" that involved agents of various institutions. Roman was the founder and editor of La Realidad de Guerrero, a news page reporting on local events.

A few hours before his death, Roman published a long Facebook post titled "State Crime Without Charging the Boss," in which he mentioned an alleged meeting between four officials at the time of the students' disappearance, including former attorney general Jesus Murillo Karam.

Murillo Karam, who oversaw the cover-up of the students' disappearance, was arrested after the publication of the truth commission report last week, while dozens of warrants were issued for suspects including military personnel, police officers and cartel members.

Roman was the 15th Journalist Killed in Mexico This Year

Roman's assassination adds to the record-breaking tally of 15 journalist slayings this year in Mexico, according to some local news outlets. Outside of a warzone, Mexico is now considered the most dangerous country for reporters with 150 journalists murdered since 2000, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Roman was killed just one week after independent journalist Juan Arjón López was found bludgeoned to death in the northern border state of Sonora, across the border from Yuma, Arizona. The area of Sonora where his body was found, San Luis Rio Colorado, has been rocked by drug cartel violence in recent years.

Mexican journalists have been targeted by drug cartels and other members of organized crime as well as small town officials and elected officials with political motivations. Independent journalists and reporters running small news outlets often face the greatest danger.

In early August, another journalist was killed along with three others inside a beer shop in the central Mexican state of Guanajuato. However, it is unclear if she was targeted for being a member of the press or another reason.