Even as former Special Prosecutor Mario Ruiz Massieu prepared to face a U.S. magistrate in New Jersey today on currencydeclaration violations, investigators in Mexico were laying the groundwork for his possible extradition on charges far more serious and bizarre: that he was part of a coverup as chief investigator in his own brother’s murder.
Specifically, Mexico’s attorney general confirmed late Saturday that his investigators have discovered “well-founded indications” that Ruiz Massieu shielded the elder brother of former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari from prosecution during the investigation. Raul Salinas was arrested last week, accused of masterminding the September assassination of ruling party official Francisco Ruiz Massieu.
Attorney General Antonio Lozano stressed that a decision to extradite Mario Ruiz Massieu had not been made, saying only that “he could be extradited” from the United States soon.
Lozano released no proof to implicate Ruiz Massieu in a coverup in the death of his brother, who was the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party’s secondranking official when he was gunned down in downtown Mexico City last year.
Mario Ruiz Massieu had became an overnight symbol of Mexican political reform last year when he himself charged that the ruling party had been involved in a coverup in his brother’s death. Last week, he emphatically denied that he had been involved in any coverup, saying he had come up with no evidence to link the killing of his brother to Raul Salinas de Gortari.
The deepening drama of the Ruiz Massieu and Salinas families, analysts said, dramatically illustrates the level of turbulence rocking Mexico’s political elite after President Ernesto Zedillo started making good last week on his unprecedented policies of internal reform and equal justice under a new rule of law.
With the triumphant outrage of a lone reformer, Ruiz Massieu took Mexico by storm Nov. 23 when he accused the two top officials of the ruling party, or PRI and his own boss - of a coverup in his brother’s assassination.
Ruiz Massieu became an overnight legend, the hero of videotapes, political stage plays and reformist forces fighting nearly seven decades of authoritarian, one-party rule. His autobiography capped the crusade, hitting the streets just two weeks ago under the title “I Accuse.”
But Ruiz Massieu himself stands accused Monday in Newark, N.J., on charges he violated U.S. Customs laws by allegedly carrying undeclared quantities of cash that exceeded the $10,000 limit allowable under U.S. law.