Sunday, February 7, 2010

Kin of 16 Massacred Seek Asylum

Ciudad Juarez, Chih - Relatives of some of the 16 victims killed in a birthday party massacre in Juárez last weekend saw an El Paso lawyer Friday to see whether they could seek asylum in the United States.

Immigration lawyer Carlos Spector said members of four families and the representatives of others met with him and "are exploring their options, including seeking asylum."

He said a well-founded fear of persecution would be a good reason for them to seek asylum because family members have begun to criticize the government of Mexico and Juárez.

"They are angry at the government. Not one has been interviewed by police. No one from the government has talked to them, and that's straight from the horse's mouth," said Spector.

Spector, who did not name the relatives of the victims, said that if they continue to criticize government and action is taken against them, they may qualify for asylum in the U.S.

Gunmen stormed a birthday party late last Saturday night and fired with large-caliber weapons at the partygoers. At least 16 were killed and 12 others wounded.

Officials believe the gunmen thought the party was attended by members of a rival gang and began mowing them down.

Federal officials in Mexico said earlier this week that an El Paso man, whom they identified as "Ramon, El 12 or El Rama," was the mastermind behind the killings. The suspect was shot and killed in a shootout with soldiers on Monday. Another man involved in the shooting was arrested and told authorities what had happened.

The brutality of the assault moved Juárez and Chihuahua state officials to offer a reward of 1 million pesos -- about $76,000 -- for information about the killing.

The attack began when 24 men in four vehicles arrived at the party. Some of them were armed with AK-47s and AR-15 assault rifles.

In all, 16 died. The youngest was a 13-year-old girl, and oldest was a 42-year-old man.

Spector did not say what would happen next with the relatives of the victims who met with him on Friday.

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