MEXICO CITY — A 23-year-old factory worker acted alone when he assassinated ruling party presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, a special prosecutor charged with investigating the case announced Tuesday.
The announcement follows an earlier statement that special prosecutor Miguel Montes Garcia favored a lone gunman theory, reversing an early investigation into a possible conspiracy. Still, as recently as last month Montes told a Mexican congressional committee that he was still pursuing other lines of investigation in the murder, and three men accused of participating in the plot are still jailed.
The special investigator's spokesman, Miguel Angel Sanchez de Armas, said he does not know whether the investigation will continue. "We have no evidence to support any other theory," he said. The attorney general's office is handling prosecution of the case.
Coming less than four months after Colosio was shot, the conclusions were met with skepticism from human rights activists, social commentators and the family of the alleged killer, Mario Aburto Martinez.
"We are going to get to the point that they are so cynical they will tell us Colosio committed suicide," said writer and social activist Homero Aridjis. "They are not afraid of making themselves ridiculous; they do not care that no one believes them."
Citing Aburto's confession, eyewitness accounts, examination of the murder weapon and analysis of photographs and videos, Montes concluded:
"Mario Aburto is the triggerman and mastermind in the murder, the crime was premeditated, the motive was political, and he acted alone in carrying out the murder.
"It is reasonable that there will always be the possibility in the indefinite future of additional evidence that should be weighed according to the law," he added in a statement. He said a report on the investigation will be made available shortly.
"This contributes to the (ruling) Institutional Revolutionary Party's lack of credibility," Aridjis said. "We will never know the truth."
Shortly after Colosio was killed at the end of a campaign rally March 23 in a working-class Tijuana neighborhood, videotapes were released purporting to show a choreography of shoving among members of the crowd-control team that enabled Aburto to get near the candidate.
On the evidence, four other men were arrested. A judge found insufficient evidence to hold one, but the other three are jailed awaiting trial. A team of Spanish forensics experts called the tapes inconclusive.
After Montes announced he was leaning away from the conspiracy theory, lawyers for the three men petitioned for their release, which has not been granted.
Montes' statement Tuesday quotes extensively from Aburto's writings, mainly a notebook he titled "The Book of Acts."
Combined with other evidence, the writings provide proof that Aburto acted alone and for political purposes, Montes said.
But investigators have not followed up on potentially valuable information about an alleged conspiracy to kill Colosio offered by Aburto's parents and other relatives living in Los Angeles. Six relatives fled north across the border from Tijuana and requested political asylum.
Aburto's relatives suspect that he was drawn into a plot by others, including an agent of the federal Interior Ministry and members of Colosio's security team. They say Aburto mentioned several of the men by name and met with them in the months before the crime.
A spokesman for the Aburto family, UCLA Prof. Jorge Mancillas, criticized the special prosecutor's statement Tuesday.
Mancillas said the family has not heard from Mexican investigators since their Los Angeles lawyer received a phone call from Montes soon after they crossed the border.
Spokesman Sanchez de Armas has responded that the investigators have formally requested the Aburtos' testimony, using diplomatic channels, but that the Aburtos have not responded.
In addition to the family's information, investigators have not shed light on reports by friends, relatives and others that Aburto attended mysterious meetings of political groups in Tijuana.
Darling reported from Mexico City and Rotella from Los Angeles.