Jose Luis Cabezas Murder: How Did He Die? Who Killed Him?

In January 1997, Jose Luis Cabezas, a photographer for the influential Noticias magazine in Argentina, was brutally murdered. More than 25 years later, it remains one of the worst attacks on the freedom of the press since democracy returned to the country. Netflix’s ‘The Photographer: Murder in Pinamar’ chronicles the investigation into Jose’s murder and showcases how the authorities zeroed in on a plot to have him assassinated. So, let’s find out what happened then, shall we?

How Did Jose Luis Cabezas Die?

Jose Luis Cabezas was born in November 1961 in Wilde in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He began working for Noticias in 1989 and was known for photographing the country’s politicians and other influential people, often in creative ways. Jose was described as a funny but stubborn person who would go after what he wanted. On January 24, 1997, he was in the resort city of Pinamar, Argentina, covering a party hosted by Oscar Andreani, a businessman.

However, Jose wasn’t seen alive after around 5:10 am on January 25, 1997, when he left the party. Sometime later, passersby discovered a car on fire in a ditch in General Madariaga, close to Pinamar. Inside, the authorities found the charred remains of Jose. He had been shot twice in the head, and there was evidence that he had been handcuffed and tortured.

Who Killed Jose Luis Cabezas?

Noticias, the magazine that Jose worked for, was known in Argentina for its investigative journalism and calling out corruption. As per the documentary, they ran a story regarding corruption in the police force. Furthermore, the authorities looked into whether the murder was in any way connected to Alfredo Enrique Nalib Yabrán, an influential businessman with ties to powerful people.

Alfredo Yabran

Back then, hardly anyone knew what Alfredo looked like because he was notorious for not wanting his pictures taken. According to one of Jose’s friends, Alfredo thrived operating from the shadows. Noticias had previously looked into Alfredo’s business and relationships with certain people who were later convicted of human rights violations. Then, in February 1996, Jose got the rare opportunity to photograph Alfredo while the businessman was with his wife, walking on the beach in Pinamar.

Jose was able to click a photograph, which was published as the cover photo of one of Noticias’ issues in March. However, following that, Jose was threatened several times. The authorities eventually suspected that Alfredo ordered Jose to be killed. According to the investigation, Gregorio Rios, Alfredo’s head of security and right-hand man, relayed the order to Gustavo Prellezo, a police officer.

Gustavo Prellezo

Gustavo then allegedly recruited four gang members: Jose Luis Auge, Hector Miguel Retana, Sergio Gustavo Gonzalez, and Horacio Anselmo Braga from Los Hornos in Argentina. Later, Gustavo’s then-wife, Siliva Belawsky, testified regarding the connection between him and Alfredo. After the party, the men followed Jose to his house and kidnapped him outside. Then, they took him to the ditch, where Gustavo shot Jose in the head twice. Then, the group placed his body in the car and set it on fire.

Two other police officers, Sergio Camaratta and Anibal Luna, were also linked to the crime. However, before Alfredo could be questioned in detail, he killed himself in May 1998. As for the rest, they were all sentenced to life imprisonment, but their sentences were reduced, later on, resulting in their release. Hector Retana was the only one who confessed to his involvement in the crime and corroborated the evidence found by the police.

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