March 16, 1995 in Nation/World

Mexican Cardinal’s Death Was Planned, Unidentified Source Says

Associated Press
 

New evidence indicates that a Roman Catholic cardinal was deliberately gunned down, and not caught in a shootout between drug gangs as the previous government claimed, a government source says.

The source, who asked not to be named, told The Associated Press late Tuesday that the break in the case would be announced within days.

The death of Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo, Mexico’s second-ranking Catholic cleric, was the first of three high-profile killings that have shaken faith in the nation’s governing party.

Many Mexicans didn’t believe the previous government’s theory: that Posadas was caught in the crossfire of rival drug traffickers.

“We have always treated this as an open case,” said a church spokesman, Bishop Ramon Godinez Flores, declining further comment.

Footage of the cardinal’s bullet-riddled body shocked this predominantly Catholic nation. His chauffeur and five other bystanders also were slain during the shootout at the Guadalajara airport on May 24, 1993.

The government source said new leads suggested the clergyman was assassinated. He did not discuss whether a motive or masterminds had been found, but said the attorney general’s office would elaborate with an announcement by next week.

Pablo Chapa Benzanilla, the special prosecutor in all three killings, planned a visit today to Guadalajara, to examine the progress his investigators have made, a Mexican newspaper reported.

Until now the government contended the clergyman was mistaken for a drug trafficker because he was in a white 1993 Gran Marquis and dressed in black, as is common among traffickers.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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