Assassination of Mexican official called part of plot

October 03, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

MEXICO CITY -- The assassination of the second-ranking official in the ruling party was the first in a plot to kill reform-minded politicians, according to a suspect's declaration announced yesterday by police.

Francisco Ruiz Massieu, the slain general secretary of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which has ruled Mexico for 65 years, was just one name on a list of planned victims, suspect Jorge Rodriguez Gonzalez told police.

In his statement, Mr. Rodriguez Gonzalez outlined a complicated murder plot motivated by politics and personal revenge with strong hints of a liaison between politicians and drug lords.

He said that his brother Fernando, a top aide to Manuel Munoz Rocha, an important congressman from Tamaulipas, had told him, "There is a list of important people in Mexico who have to die because they support a series of reforms for the political modernization of that country."

The murder would also politically weaken the victim's brother, Mario Ruiz Massieu, who is the assistant attorney general in charge of anti-narcotics enforcement, Jorge Rodriguez Gonzalez said his brother Fernando had told him.

Police had questioned and released the congressman, Mr. Munoz Rocha, on Friday, after the alleged triggerman, Daniel Aguilar Trevino, said Fernando Rodriguez Gonzalez was the person who had shown him Mr. Ruiz Massieu's photo and identified him as the target of the assassination they were planning.

The attorney general has asked the legislature to revoke Mr. Munoz Rocha's congressional immunity, permitting police to arrest him.

Mexicans had immediately suspected political infighting in connection with the assassination of Mr. Ruiz Massieu, who was slated to be majority leader in the next Congress. Nevertheless, the news provoked shock and indignation.

"This is shameful for the nation," said Patricia Ruiz, deputy for the leftist opposition Democratic Revolutionary Party. "Congress should be the best the nation has to offer, not a den of criminals."

As the investigation continued into the second major political assassination in six months, the judge in the trial of Mario Aburto -- accused of the March 23 murder of PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio -- considered a prosecution motion to convict Mr. Aburto and to sentence him to 50 years in prison. Mexico has no death penalty.

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