Photo: Dorantes Zurita was acquitted
Mexican photojournalist Sergio Dorantes Zurita, a former employee of Newsweek magazine whose acquittal on charges of murdering his wife in 2003 was upheld last week on appeal, described his battle for justice in a radio interview in this capital.
Dorantes Zurita told Radio Formula Friday that he fought during the trial to clear his name and “try to set a legal precedent,” as well as to “stop the Federal District Attorney’s Office from continuing to manufacture witnesses and ruining the lives of innocents, like they did with me.”
Alejandra Patricia Dehesa Perez, Dorantes Zurita’s estranged wife, was stabbed to death on June 4, 2003, at the offices of Newsweek magazine in Mexico City, where she worked as an administrator.
“We had been separated for seven months and her family immediately asked the DA’s office to find me guilty of homicide, alleging that I had physically abused her,” the photographer said.
An investigation was launched and in January 2004 the DA’s office issued an arrest warrant for Dorantes, who fled to the United States.
In interviews over the years, the photojournalist has maintained his innocence and said evidence had been manufactured to pin the crime on him.
He was arrested on Feb. 20, 2007, and jailed in Oakland, California, before being handed over to Mexican authorities in October 2008 and placed in a Mexico City lockup.
Luis Eduardo Sanchez Martinez, the lone witness in the case, accused Dorantes Zurita of the crime, saying a man who appeared upset bumped into him after leaving the scene of the homicide.
He later retracted his statement, saying that he had been paid by a prosecutor to make the false accusation.
The witness was subsequently charged with making a false statement, but the one deemed false was the second one, meaning that the initial testimony stood and Dorantes Zurita remained behind bars.
The photojournalist said prosecutors used that false statement as the lone evidence against him in a “very torturous trial.”
“They made life impossible for my defense team but (his attorneys) were very deft in gradually discrediting each of the arguments” of the DA’s office, he added.
Dorantes Zurita also said the judge in the case, Joel Lopez Nuñez, “did an excellent job correcting all the errors of the previous judges” and acquitted him of the murder charge on March 30.
That sentence was upheld on July 6 by Mexico City’s Superior Tribunal of Justice.
Dorantes Zurita said he is planning to found an organization to protect people sentenced to prison in Mexico for crimes they did not commit.
“I experienced it and I met many whose lives have been ruined by the deep-rooted corruption in prosecutors’ offices and the so-called investigative police forces,” the photojournalist said.
He said it is likely that the murder will remain unsolved, as often happens in Mexico.
The killer “must be very pleased that the authorities haven’t found him and that this is yet another example of the impunity that prevails in our justice system,” Dorantes Zurita said.