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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 July 2006, 22:32 GMT 23:32 UK
Peru drugs trial judge shot dead
Judge Hernan Saturno Vergara
The judge had been trying alleged members of the Tijuana cartel
A Peruvian judge prosecuting several suspected members of a drug-trafficking gang linked to the Mexican mafia has been shot dead at a restaurant in Lima.

Judge Hernan Saturno Vergara is said to have been killed by a single gunman.

The judge's cousin, a lawyer who was dining with him, was hurt in the attack and is receiving medical treatment.

The judge had been handling the trial of alleged members of the Mexico-based Tijuana cartel, regarded by the US as a major cocaine-trafficking organisation.

Peru is the world's second-largest producer of cocaine, after Colombia.

Officials believe Mexican cartels have become major players in the transfer of large cocaine shipments from Peru to the US.

Judge Vergara was one of three judges trying 25 people who were arrested in 2002 on charges of working with the Tijuana cartel.

He had been assigned a bodyguard but had reportedly dismissed him for the evening when he was shot dead.

Peru's Justice Minister, Alejandro Tudela, described the killing as "a threat and a challenge to all Peruvians", the Associated Press news agency reports.

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