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Friday, January 22, 1999 Published at 05:28 GMT


World: Americas

Salinas sentenced to 50 years

The victim was shot outside a Mexico City hotel in 1994

Raul Salinas, the brother of the former Mexican president, Carlos Salinas, has been sentenced to 50 years in prison for involvement in the murder of a politician.


Helen Sawyer reports on Mexico's trial of the century
In what correspondents describe as one of the highest profile trials in modern Mexican history, Salinas was found guilty of plotting the murder in 1994 of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu.

The victim was not only a top official in the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) but also Salinas' former brother-in-law.


BBC's Peter Greste: Verdict sets a remarkable precedent
The prosecution argued that he ordered the murder for both political and personal reasons stemming from Mr Ruiz Massieu's divorce from his sister.

Judge Ricardo Ojeda Borges ruled that circumstantial evidence was sufficient for conviction in the absence of either a confession or direct evidence linking Salinas to the crime.

Salinas' lawyer Juan Velazquez says they plan to appeal.

Marathon trial


[ image: Raul Salinas enjoyed the high-life until his arrest]
Raul Salinas enjoyed the high-life until his arrest
The case has been ongoing for four years since Salinas' arrest in February 1995. During that time he has been held in a maximum-security prison maintaining his innocence throughout. He says the charges were a result of a vendetta against him and his brother.

The trial has been dogged by problems from the start.

The case's first prosecutor - the victim's own brother - resigned the case and left the country only to be accused later of involvement in a cover-up intended to obstruct the investigation into his brother's death.

There have also been accusations of prosecution bribes aimed at potential witnesses.

But the BBC's Mexico Correspondent, Peter Greste, says the trial has broken new ground in a country traditionally reluctant to prosecute powerful politicians.

Enormous wealth

Before his arrest, Raul Salinas accumulated a multi-million dollar fortune despite his position as a mid-level bureaucrat. His self-aggrandisement came to symbolise for many high-level corruption and excess.

Carlos Salinas left Mexico shortly after his brother's arrest, disgraced by a final year which saw economic crisis, a guerrilla uprising and the assassination of the PRI's presidential candidate. He now lives in self-imposed exile in Ireland.

Raul Salinas was also convicted on unrelated charges of using false documents and making false declarations.

Prosecutors in Switzerland last year ordered the confiscation of more than $100m in Swiss accounts in Salinas' name. They say it is part of a much larger amount paid for helping Mexican and Colombian drugs cartels during his brother's six-year term ending in 1994.





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