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Prisoner Says He Was Paid to Kill Aquino

April 08, 1986|United Press International

MANILA — A man arrested for theft claimed that a general paid him more than $24,000 to kill President Corazon Aquino at a rally but that he backed out only yards from his target, officials said today.

Romualdo Mercado, 30, a university graduate from Aquino's home province of Tarlac, was apprehended Saturday at a downtown Manila inn after a guest complained that Mercado had stolen $6,000 from his room, police sources said.

Mercado told authorities that he was given a contract to kill Aquino for 500,000 pesos ($24,390) and that a general paid him, the sources said.

Justice Minister Neptali Gonzales said he ordered a thorough investigation of Mercados' claims "to determine if he is really telling the truth or if he is merely trying to hit the headlines."

Marcos Links Studied

City Prosecutor Jose Flaminiano said investigators are looking into the possibility that the deposed Marcos government was involved.

"We are also trying to find out if he (Mercado) has foreign connections," Flaminiano said.

Mercado confessed that he tried to approach Aquino at the grandstand at Manila's seaside Luneta Park on March 2 during the thanksgiving Mass for her "people power victory," police sources said. About 1.5 million people attended the Mass.

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