Press workers in Argentina have expressed “deep concern” after the body of a journalist who denounced alleged police abuses was found beaten and strangled at her home in Corrientes Province .
Journalist Griselda Blanco was found dead on Saturday by a brother at her residence in Curuzú Cuati, a city some 600 kilometres north of Buenos Aires. Her body had been beaten, strangled and hanged, police sources said Sunday.
Her former partner has been arrested on suspicion of femicide, police said but members of the 45-year-old’s family linked the crime to the previous allegations of police wrongdoing.
Blanco was “killed,” alleged one relative, for “telling truths that nobody dared to say.”
Police sources quoted by the AFP news agency said that initial examinations of the journalist’s body had led investigators to rule out a hypothesis of suicide, with wounds on her neck indicating that she had been strangled with a rope. The victim had received multiple blows to her face and there were traces of blood at the scene.
There was no sign of forced entry to the premises, an investigator told the Télam state agency. Hair found on the victim's hands could indicate "signs that she defended herself from the attack."
Investigators probing an alleged femicide arrested her ex-partner, another journalist named Armando Jara. His home was searched in a raid soon afterwards.
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However, Lautaro Cesani, 25, one of Blanco's children with another ex-partner, doubted Jara’s connection to the crime.
"In my opinion, I don't think that Jara had anything to do with this, although I would like to make it clear that we are awaiting the expert reports and the results," he said.
Threats from reporting
Blanco was a radio journalist and produced programmes that specialised in local reporting. Provincial newspaper El Litoral described her over the weekend as "a critical journalist” who was “very committed to various causes."
The journalist had published allegations of misconduct and poor performance by members of the local police force and, in posts on her Facebook profile, claimed officers were involved in the sale of drugs.
Blanco’s children said their mother had been threatened on several occasions and that she told them to contact her if anything happened to her.
On Sunday, Cesani published a message linking her death to articles she published on her website, Griselda Blanco Noticias, alleging abuses by members of the Corrientes Province Police Force.
"Our mother did not commit suicide, our mother was killed. She spoke truths that no-one dared to say. They wanted her to be silenced and they couldn't.... Today it was our mother and tomorrow it could be anyone in this city,” he wrote.
In Blanco’s last social media post, made in the early hours of Saturday morning, the journalist had accused staff at the Hospital Fernando Irastorza in Curuzú Cuatiá of malpractice in the death of a friend.
"Justice for Débora Serrano. She died at the civil hospital in Curuzú Cuatiá due to malpractice. Those [who are] guilty should go to jail, including the directors of the hospital. Together all the people united in search of justice and we will protest outside the hospital of death. If you join us, get in touch. Everyone for Débora Serrano," Blanco posted in the early hours of Saturday morning.
In a statement, the Federación Argentina de Trabajadores de Prensa (“Argentine Federation of Press Workers, FATPREN) expressed its “deep concern" about Blanco’s death, highlighting that their colleague had “been denouncing malpractice at the local hospital” and warning of abuses committed by “political and police powers." The group called for a “transparent investigation to clarify the case as a matter of urgency.”
Echoing those thoughts, the Asociación de Periodistas de Corrientes (“Association of Journalists of Corrientes, APC) demanded the immediate “clarification of the circumstances and causes of the death” in a statement.
Prosecutor María José Barrero, in charge of the investigation, has removed the local police from the case and ordered an intervention by Argentina’s Federal Police Force.