Slain reporter's 'lost' diary implicates suspect p.17

By: Mark Fitzgerald In the three months since San Antonio Express-News reporter Philip True was brutally murdered while trekking through the remote Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range in Mexico, the circumstances of his death have only grow murkier.
Now the mystery has a twist worthy of a B. Traven novel: The sudden appearance of a diary that records his final days ? and seems to point a finger at one of two Huichol Indian suspects arrested for the crime.
The diary was long believed to be lost. But Newsweek magazine Mexico City bureau chief Alan Zarembo reports in the March 22 issue that he found it stuffed inside True's backpack on the shelf of a warehouse just outside Guadalajara used to store evidence. The backpack also contained other personal property Mexican authorities long maintained were missing, including his camera and passport.
True, 50, wrote in a journal wherever he went, and when he was killed last December the Express-News Mexican City bureau chief was on a dream assignment, one he had promised his editors would result in a "beautiful story." True would hike alone for 10 days to report on the culture of the Huichol Indians, an isolated people who were increasingly coming into contact with modern Mexico.
True's diary records one possibly fateful confrontation of his own with a Huichol named Juan ? the same first name as one of the men Mexican authorities arrested for the murder. The entry, Newsweek's Zarembo writes, "suggests that Juan may have viewed the American as an easy target because True lacked the necessary paperwork to trek through Indian land."
In capital letters, True wrote a sort of headline for the confrontation: "THIS IS THE PICTURE OF THE TRIP." A tense dialogue with Juan follows:
"Greetings. ? I'm a journalist."
"Did you get authority from San Sebastian?" Juan asks.
"No, from Tuxpan."
"We are in San Sebastian and you must get the governor's permission. I am going to my ranch and I will send some guys to get your pack. [They] will take you back to San Sebastian and maybe put you in jail. You can't come on the Huichol land without permission."
"It looks bad for a bit," True confides to his diary. After promising not to take pictures, True apparently believes he will be allowed to proceed if he follows Juan to his ranch, which Zarembo says may have been True's fatal mistake.
Juan Chivarras, 28, and his brother-in-law Miguel Hernandez de la Cruz, 24, are charged with murdering the 50-year-old True. At the time of their arrests, Mexican authorities say, the men said they killed him because they were "offended" that True was taking pictures of sites sacred to the Huichol Indians. Now they say they killed the reporter in self defense because he was drunk and acting violently. Both scenarios are implausible, say colleagues of True.
The sudden appearance of the "lost" diary is only the latest physical evidence to add more complication than understanding to the mystery of True's murder. Separate autopsies conducted on his badly decomposed corpse by the Jalisco state and federal coroners reached sharply different conclusions about how he died. A human rights groups in Jalisco charges that the two suspects were tortured into confessing ? although journalists present at their arraignment a day after their arrest saw no evidence of physical abuse.
Express-News editor Robert Rivard calls the recovery of the journal "a surprise to say the least. We are anxious to see for ourselves what he might have written to shed more light on the situation."


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