The assassination of María de los Angeles Tamés of the National Action Party (PAN) in the town of Atizapán de Zaragoza, including whether she was investigating corruption in the town at the time of her death, whether her death was investigated, and if so, the results of the investigation (September 2001 - March 2003) [MEX41297.FE]

Several sources reported that María de los Angeles Tamés, a city councillor in Atizapán de Zaragoza, was assassinated in front of her home on 5 September 2001 (Los Angeles Times 14 Apr. 2002; AP 6 Sept. 2002; The New York Times 5 Sept. 2002; Wall Street Journal 12 Apr. 2002).

At the time of her death, María de los Angeles Tamés was planning to resign from the city council and to submit evidence to Mexican government authorities that would have implicated the municipal government in acts of corruption, racketeering and drug trafficking (Los Angeles Times 7 Mar. 2002). The mayor of Atizapán, Juan Antonio Dominguez, was put under house arrest following an investigation (The Washington Post 8 Mar. 2002). María de los Angeles Tamés and Juan Antonio Dominguez were members of the same political party, the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacional, PAN) (ibid.).

The Attorney General of the State of Mexico, Alfonso Navarrete Prida, stated that María de los Angeles Tamés had been killed because she was on the verge of exposing a "complex network of corruption" led by Juan Antonio Dominguez (The New York Times 5 Sept. 2002). The Attorney General noted that audits of municipal finances had shown that some bribes accepted by the former mayor had exceeded US$40,000 per year (ibid). In September 2002, the investigation into the municipal councillor's death was in its final stages, and was expected to prove that the former mayor had been involved in the misappropriation of over one million US dollars in public funds (AP 6 Sept. 2002).

Juan Antonio Dominguez and his former chief of staff, Daniel Garcia, were charged with engineering the murder of María de los Angeles Tamés (Wall Street Journal 12 Apr. 2002). The Los Angeles Times reported that the two men had been charged with "murder, extortion and fraud" and that they were still in jail awaiting trial (14 Apr. 2002). Four other suspects were under house arrest, while five others, four of whom were members of the Garcia family, were still being sought by the authorities (Los Angeles Times 14 Apr. 2002). Prosecutors charged Isaias Garcia, Daniel Garcia's brother, with hiring the gunman who killed María de los Angeles Tamés (ibid.). In early September 2002, the councillor's murderer was still at large (AP 6 Sept. 2002; The New York Times 5 Sept. 2002). An article from the Associated Press indicated that the authorities of the State of Mexico had issued a warrant for the arrest of Jaime Ortega Gonzalez, the suspected gunman (6 Sept. 2002).

On 26 October 2002, La Jornada reported that the judicial police of the State of Mexico had arrested Felipe Reyes Alpízar Ortiz as a suspect in the assassination of the city councillor. Reyes Alpízar tried to bribe police officers to avoid arrest (La Jornada 26 Oct. 2002). The Attorney General of the State of Mexico said that Felipe Reyes Apízar was Jaime González Ortega's accomplice (ibid.). In a video shown by the Public Ministry to journalists, Felipe Reyes Alpízar denied having killed the victim, but admitted to driving the pick-up truck that Jaime González Ortega had been in just before the victim was killed (ibid.). According to Reyes Alpízar, the two men worked for Juan Antonio Dominguez (ibid.). The Attorney General stated that Felipe Reyes Alpízar would be subject to an injunction restricting his right to freedom of movement (arraigo judicial) until he appeared in criminal court in Barrientos (ibid.). The Attorney General also stated that he was launching a preliminary investigation into whether Antonio Vega de la Garza, the former director of Atizapán de Zaragoza's public security, had been involved in the murder of María de los Angeles Tamés (ibid.).

In December 2002, Felipe Reyes Alpízar stated that he had been "tortured" by officials of the Public Ministry to get him to confess to participating in the murder of María de los Angeles Tamés and to force him to identify the two Atizapán employees who planned the murder; he also denied having had conversations with the former mayor, Juan Antonio Domínguez, and his chief of staff, Daniel García (Reforma 10 Dec. 2002).

In January 2003, Ernesto Hernández Tapia, another witness in the María de los Angeles Tamés case, testified before Judge Alejandro Jordán Nava that the signature that appeared on the statements that he allegedly made about the former mayor was a forgery and that he too had been [translation] "tortured" by judicial police officers (Diario de México 16 Jan. 2003). This testimony apparently started rumours that claimed that the former mayor would be released on 13 April 2003, after having been in prison for one year (ibid.).

On 4 February 2003, Reforma reported that Francisco Pérez Mendoza, one of the judicial police officers who had been summoned to appear before Judge Jardán in October 2002, finally testified before the judge that he had never been a police officer in the State of Mexico and that his life had been threatened by Felipe Reyes Alpízar at his trial (Reforma 4 Feb. 2002). However, no one close to Felipe Reyes Alpízar heard him utter threats against Francisco Pérez Mendoza (ibid.). Another Reforma article indicated on 26 February 2003 that two other judicial police officers, Carlos Arenas Polanco and Martín Martínez, who were supposed to appear in the criminal trial of Felipe Reyes Alpízar and Daniel Garcia, failed to appear. The officers were supposed to clear up contradictory testimony that they had given during other hearings (Reforma 26 Feb. 2003). Leonel Prior, Daniel Garcia's lawyer, asked the court to take disciplinary measures (apercibimiento) against the two police officers by issuing them a fine or having them arrested for their failure to comply with the court authority (por su desacato a la autoridad judicial) (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References


The Associated Press (AP). 6 September 2002. Will Weissert. "A Year Later, Slain Councilwoman Symbolizes Frustrations in Fight against Mexican Corruption." (NEXIS)

Diario de México. 16 January 2003. Luis Manuel Novelo Anaya. "Comentarios: ¿Liberarán a Domínguez Zambrano?" http://www.diariodemexico.com.mx/2003/ene03/160103/textos/metro_op.htm [Accessed 17 Mar. 2003]

La Jornada [Mexico City]. 26 October 2002. Silvia Chavez Gonzalez. "Cae presunto asesino de la regidora panista Tamés Pérez." http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2002/oct02/021026/031n1est.php?origen=estados.html [Accessed 17 Mar. 2003]

Los Angeles Times. 14 April 2002. Chris Kraul. "Slaying of Reformer Attorney May Help Achieve her Goal; Corruption: Investigation Into Mexican City Councilwoman's Slaying May Lead to Cleanup of Local Government." (NEXIS)

The New York Times. 5 September 2002. Ginger Thompson. "A Mexican Reformer Who Looked Too Close to Home." (NEXIS)

Reforma [Mexico City]. 26 February 2003. César Díaz. "Faltan agentes a careo en caso Atizapán." http://www.reforma.com [Accessed 17 Mar. 2003]

_____. 4 February 2003. César Díaz. "Estrena testigo caso Atizapán." http://www.reforma.com [Accessed 17 Mar. 2003]

_____. 10 décembre 2002. César Díaz. "Carean a inculpados en caso Atizapán." http://www.reforma.com [Accessed 17 Mar. 2003]

Wall Street Journal [Princeton, NJ]. 12 April 2002. José De Córdoba. "Deadly Results: In Mexico, Murder Roils Political Party Known for Probity." (NEXIS)

The Washington Post. 8 March 2002. Kevin Sullivan and Mary Jordan. "Idealist's Death, Big Arrest Rattle Posh Mexican City; Mayor Held in Probe of Killing, Corruption." (NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted


IRB Databases

LEXIS/NEXIS

World News Connection (WNC)

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International

La Crónica [Mexico City]. Search engine

Human Rights Watch

Search engines:

Alltheweb.com

Google