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MEXICO: The murder of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo (1993)

Guadalajara, Mexico, is trying to get Pope John Paul II to go there for an ecumenical congress. It might be hard on his health and on hia nerves, since Guadalajara is still troubled by the death of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, who was shot 14 times at close range on May 24, 1993, at Guadalajara airport. A government inquiry concluded he was caught in a shootout between rival cocaine cartels and was mistakenly identified as a drug lord, but no one was ever imprisoned for the slaying. The case was reopened in 2001 and new leads emerged, including testimony from a childhood friend of Posadas. He says Posadas told him he was summoned to President Carlos Salinas' residence and threatened just weeks before his death. "There is a lot of proof that leads us to conclude that we are before a crime of state, prepared, organized and with the participation of state security forces," Fernando Guzman, a conservative state legislator, said. Guzman is close to the investigation because he is representing the wife of Posadas' driver, also killed in the attack.mHe said investigators have ruled out the involvement of drug cartels, at least as the case was presented by Salinas' government. The new theory that the murder may have been ordered by members of the Salinas government was based on allegations that a senior Salinas aide warned Posadas to keep his mouth shut about information he had uncovered linking senior politicians with the drug trade and prostitution. No one has alleged Salinas was personally involved. He ran Mexico from 1988 to 1994, but his legacy was destroyed by a deep economic recession within months of him leaving office and by his brother Raul's criminal activities. Raul Salinas is serving a 27-year jail sentence for the murder of his former brother-in-law and is also on trial for illegal enrichment and links with drug organizations.

The Posadas case was reopened after President Vicente Fox won power in 2000, ending seven decades of one-party rule. He took office vowing to clear up several high-profile murders. Deputy Attorney General Maria de la Luz Lima Malvido cited serious irregularities in earlier probes, including police obstruction and the disappearance of over 1,000 key documents. Since then, she says she has received death threats "from powerful quarters," her teen-age daughter was held at gunpoint and her two other children were fired at in their car. With the 10th anniversary of the killing nearing, senior Church members last week urged Fox in a letter to keep his word and see the case is solved. Posadas' successor Cardinal Juan Sandoval is convinced the murder was politically motivated. He, his lawyer and Guzman have also reported death threats and appealed to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights for protection. Main source: Reuters: 05/22/03)

Ronald Hilton - 6/6/03