Tuesday, September 20, 2011

State Official Says He Had No Role in Mexican Congressman’s Death


Guerrero state Social Development Secretary Sofio Ramirez on Tuesday denied allegations that he was involved in the killing of a Mexican congressman and said the slain lawmaker was a friend.

A group of Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, legislators, mayors and officials accused Ramirez on Monday of being involved in the murder of Congressman Moises Villanueva and his driver, whose bodies were found over the weekend.

“An investigation of the rural development secretary, Sofio Ramirez,” should be conducted because he allegedly “politically harassed” Villanueva, who disappeared on Sept. 4 along with his driver, Eric Estrada, the PRI members said in a letter published in the press in Guerrero, which is in southern Mexico.

Ramirez requested a leave of absence as a congressman representing Guerrero to take up the post of social development secretary and was replaced in the Chamber of Deputies by Villanueva.

The state official resigned from the PRI, to which Villanueva belonged, and joined the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, which holds Guerrero’s governorship.

Villanueva’s death yielded “no economic or political” benefit, Ramirez said, acknowledging that he had asked the slain lawmaker to think about joining the PRD.

The social development secretary said he “grew up politically” with Villanueva, who backed him on various runs for office.

Several of the individuals who signed the open letter linking him to Villanueva’s killing have stated that they never gave permission for their names to be used, Ramirez said.

Zapotitlan Mayor Jose Agustino Santiago, one of the signatories, was murdered in April 2010, Ramirez said.

The allegations were orchestrated by the PRI’s leader in Guerrero, Efren Leyva Acevedo, who has an “excessive (desire) to get even politically” because his party lost the state elections to the PRD in January, Ramirez said.

The state official said he planned to file a lawsuit in the next few days against all the PRI officials who signed the letter linking him to Villanueva’s killing.

The PRI is trying to “profit from human pain,” Ramirez said.

The bodies of Villanueva and Estrada were found on Saturday.

Their bodies were thrown off a bridge on the highway that links Huamuxitlan, Guerrero, to Puebla state.

Villanueva and his driver disappeared while apparently driving from Tlapa, a city in Guerrero, to Puebla.

The automobile was found later, but there were no signs of violence.

Villanueva, a native of Alcozauca, Guerrero, belonged to the Population, Border and Migratory Affairs Committee and to the Agrarian Reform Committee of the lower house of Congress.

Source: EFE



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