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For Immediate Release

Mexican Authorities Urged to Conduct a Serious Investigation into Death of American Journalist Brad Will

Cambridge, Mass - 02/19/2010

(Cambridge, MA) Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) urges Mexican authorities to conduct a serious investigation into the shooting death of US journalist Brad Will. In going forward, the Mexican prosecutor's office (Procuraduría General de la Republica – PGR) should take into account the forensic findings reported by PHR's International Forensic Program.

Yesterday, an appellate judge in Mexico ordered the release of Juan Manuel Martinez, who had been wrongly accused of shooting video journalist Brad Will at close range during the protests in Oaxaca in 2006. The judge cited lack of evidence against the accused. This is supported by PHR's independent forensic findings in the case.

As previously noted by PHR, the arrest of Juan Manuel Martinez by the Mexican General Attorney's Office (PGR) ignored physical evidence and forensic findings discovered by PHR's forensic experts in 2008.

The prosecutor's office had insisted from the beginning that a bystander, near Brad Will, shot him. The PGR ignored PHR's finding that one of the projectiles that struck Brad Will was a ricochet, suggesting the shot originated from a distance.

"It has been clear from the onset that the Mexican prosecutor's office was blatantly ignoring scientific findings that went against its hypothesis that a bystander was the perpetrator," says Stefan Schmitt, Director of Physicians for Human Rights' International Forensic Program. "The appellate judge's ruling acknowledges this and I just hope that the prosecutor now initiates a serious investigation. After all, Brad Will's murderer is still likely at large in Oaxaca."

Brad Will was one of at least 13 individuals who were fatally shot during protests in Oaxaca in 2006. By making unfounded accusations based on the misrepresentation of fact, the PGR has attempted to make Will's death look like a singular homicide and has failed to look at the possibility that his death could well be linked to the clear pattern of unsolved gunshot-related homicides at that time in Oaxaca.

Physicians for Human Rights' International Forensic Program mobilizes the skills of medical and scientific professionals to investigate human rights violations, war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The IFP provides evidence to a wide range of legal institutions and is often able to settle the difficult questions of survivors searching for missing relatives.

Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) is an independent organization that uses medicine and science to stop mass atrocities and severe human rights violations. We are supported by the expertise and passion of health professionals and concerned citizens alike.

Since 1986, PHR has conducted investigations in more than 40 countries around the world, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Sudan, the United States, the former Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe.

  • 1986 — Led investigations of torture in Chile gaining freedom for heroic doctors there
  • 1988 — First to document the Iraqi use of chemical weapons on Kurds providing               evidence for prosecution of war criminals
  • 1996 — Exhumed mass graves in the Balkans and Rwanda to provide evidence for               International Criminal Tribunals
  • 1997 — Shared the Nobel Peace Prize for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines
  • 2003 — Warned US Policymakers on health and human rights conditions prior to and               during the invasion of Iraq
  • 2004 — Documented genocide and sexual violence in Darfur in support of international               prosecutions
  • 2010 — Investigated the epidemic of violence spread by Burma’s military junta
  • 2011 — Championed the principle of noninterference with medical services in times of               armed conflict and civil unrest during the Arab Spring
  • 2012 — Trained doctors, lawyers, police, and judges in the Democratic Republic of the               Congo, Kenya, and Syria on the proper collection of evidence in sexual               violence cases
  • 2013 — Won first prize in the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention with MediCapt, our               mobile app that documents evidence of torture and sexual violence

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