Jose Luis Cabezas Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him? – Cabezas was kidnapped and killed on January 25, 1997, at Pinamar, Argentina’s most luxurious beach resort on the Atlantic Ocean, which was frequented by politicians, businessmen, actors, athletes, and other celebrities. José Luis Cabezas (November 28, 1961, in Wilde, Buenos Aires – January 25, 1997, in General Madariaga) was an Argentine news photographer and reporter for Noticias, a renowned local newsmagazine.
Cabezas rose to prominence after being kidnapped and slain in February 1996 by persons hired by Alfredo Yabrán in reprisal for taking a photo of him in Pinamar, a beach town on the Atlantic Coast. Yabrán and his wife were featured on the cover of Noticias magazine in March 1996, revealing Yabrán’s face to the world for the first time.
Jose Luis Cabezas Murder was widely reported in the Argentine press, and it came as a shock not only to the general public but also to some of Argentina’s most prominent politicians at the time, many of whom had close relations to Yabrán.
Jose Luis Cabezas, a photojournalist for Argentina’s prominent Noticias magazine, was brutally killed in January 1997. It remains one of the biggest attacks on press freedom since the country’s restoration to democracy, more than 25 years later. ‘The Photographer: Murder in Pinamar,’ a Netflix original film, follows the investigation into Jose’s death and how the authorities discovered a plot to kill him. So, shall we investigate what transpired?
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What Caused Jose Luis Cabezas’ Death?
Jose was born in the Argentina city of Wilde in November 1961. The 35-year-old started working for Noticias in 1989 and was known for shooting politicians and other notable individuals in unusual ways. Jose was characterised as a witty but determined individual who would pursue his goals.
He was in the resort city of Pinamar, Argentina, on January 24, 1997, covering a party held by Oscar Andreani, a businessman. Jose, on the other hand, was not seen alive after leaving the party at 5:10 a.m. on January 25, 1997. Passers-by subsequently discovered a burning automobile in a ditch in General Madariaga, near Pinamar. The authorities discovered Jose’s burnt remains inside. He had been shot twice in the head and had been chained and tortured, according to the evidence.
The murder occurred during the provincial government of Eduardo Duhalde in the province of Buenos Aires. It was seen as a possible criminal message from the police in the province of Buenos Aires area to its management. “They threw a corpse at me,” said President Carlos Saul Menem shortly after the event, who had promised to clarify the case, but was heavily chastised for the way the investigation was conducted and for his close ties with Alfredo Yabr.
It also occurred at a time when Argentina’s journalism had the best public reputation. Noticias was and continues to be notorious for exposing allegedly corrupt people and institutions. Jose Luis Cabezas murder was seen by those institutions as an attack on independent media.
There were marches, caravans of vehicles and trains, public demonstrations, all kinds of homages, and photo expositions as the media, journalist associations, human rights groups, and many ordinary people came to the streets to demand fast justice. No se olviden de Cabezas (“Don’t forget Cabezas“) became a popular slogan that symbolised the demand for justice and served as a warning to those who were uninformed of the people’s discontent with impunity.
Who Killed Jose Luis Cabezas and Why?
Jose’s magazine, Noticias, was well-known in Argentina for its investigative journalism and anti-corruption efforts. According to the documentary, a narrative about police corruption was broadcast. Authorities also looked into whether the murder was linked to Alfredo Yabran, a powerful businessman with connections to powerful individuals.
Because Alfredo was infamous for refusing to have his photo taken, few people knew what he looked like back then. Alfredo, according to one of Jose’s pals, thrived in the shadows. Alfredo’s business and links with some people who were ultimately convicted of human rights breaches had already been investigated by Noticias. Then, in February 1996, Jose had the unique opportunity to shoot Alfredo while he was walking on the beach in Pinamar with his wife.
Jose was able to take a photo that was used as the cover photo for one of Noticias’ March issues. However, Jose was threatened multiple times after that. Authorities finally suspected Alfredo of ordering Jose’s death. According to the investigation, Alfredo’s right-hand man, Gregorio Rios, transmitted the order to Gustavo Prellezo, a police officer.
Gustavo then recruited four gang members from Argentina’s Los Hornos: Jose Luis Auge, Hector Miguel Retana, Sergio Gustavo Gonzalez, and Horacio Anselmo Braga. Gustavo’s then-wife, Siliva Belawsky, later testified about his relationship with Alfredo.
After the party, the men followed Jose home and kidnapped him outside. They then led Jose to the ditch, where Gustavo shot him twice in the head. The guy then placed his body in the car and set fire to it. Sergio Camaratta and Anibal Luna, two more police officers, were also involved in the crime.
Alfredo, however, committed suicide in May 1998, before he could be interrogated further. The rest were all sentenced to life in jail, but their sentences were later reduced, allowing them to be released. Hector Retana was the only one who admitted to his involvement in the crime and confirmed the police’s proof.
Watch ‘The Photographer: Murder in Pinamar’ on Netflix with subscription.