New Netflix film probes the murder of an Argentine photographer

A new true crime documentary on Netflix delves into the murder of an Argentine photojournalist in 1997.

The film investigates the killing of José Luis Cabezas, which caused deep shock in Argentina at the time.

The documentary, titled The Photographer: Murder in Pinamar, probes the murder of Cabezas and attempts to untangle the web of corruption and cronyism that lay behind it.

His killing caused a major political scandal, involving many of the country’s leading figures.

Directed by Angelo Hartmann and produced by Vanessa Ragone, the film follows their earlier true crime series Carmel: Who Killed Maria Marta?, which debuted on Netflix in 2020.

But just who was José Luis Cabezas?

Who was José Luis Cabezas?

José Luis Cabezas was an Argentine photojournalist who was murdered in 1997, and whose killing prompted a huge scandal implicating numerous senior politicians, police officers and businessmen.

Cabezas worked for Noticias, one of Argentina’s leading current affairs magazines.

In February 1996, Cabezas took and published a photograph of Alfredo Yabrán, a postal service tycoon, striding along the beach at the coastal resort of Pinamar.

Prior to this, Yabrán’s photograph had never appeared in the Argentine press, and so Cabezas’ photograph revealed his face to the public for the first time.

Yabrán was notorious for the opaque nature of his business interests – he was accused of disguising his ownership of large firms by using proxies – and his close relationships with top politicians.

He was particularly close to Carlos Menem, Argentina’s president from 1989 to 1999.

Menem had first been elected on a left-wing policy platform, but swiftly abandoned it and instead chose to privatise a series of government-owned firms, bringing him into close contact with business figures.

He was later investigated on various corruption charges, but as a serving senator he remained immune from prosecution until his death in 2021.

In January 1997, just under a year after the photograph of Yabrán had appeared in Noticias, Cabezas was kidnapped, beaten, handcuffed and tortured before being shot twice in the head beside a pit in the countryside.

His body was put inside a vehicle owned by the magazine that employed him and then burned.

The murder of Cabezas, which was seen as a serious assault on journalistic freedom, was followed by a huge public and press outcry.

After the killing, Noticias published a further investigation detailing corruption in the Buenos Aires police department.

Yabrán had previously bragged that not even Argentina’s intelligence services had a photograph of him, and had threatened other journalists who had tried to investigate him.

Yabrán was shot dead himself in May 1998.

You can watchThe Photographer: Murder in Pinamar on Netflix. The documentary will be available to view from Thursday, May 19.

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