Luis Donaldo Colosio Presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was shot and killed in 1994 at a campaign event in Tijuana, Baja California.

Rights commission urges reopening Colosio murder case, says irregularities warrant new investigation

Man who confessed to presidential candidate's 1994 assassination says he was tortured

The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has urged the federal Attorney General’s Office (FGR) to conduct a new investigation into the 1994 murder of presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio Murietta.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) candidate was shot twice while campaigning in a poor neighborhood of Tijuana, Baja California, in March 1994.

Just one man, Mario Aburto Martínez, was convicted of Colosio’s murder, but there has long been speculation that he wasn’t the culprit.

A man – supposedly Aburto – was arrested at the scene of the crime, but many people believe that a different man — the real Aburto — was convicted of the crime. In other words, the killer was replaced with an innocent man.

Millions of Mexicans believe that the PRI was behind the murder of Colosio, who was determined to take the then omnipotent party in a new direction.

Mario Aburto
Mario Aburto Martínez remains in prison for Colosio’s murder.

In a new report, the CNDH said that evidence has come to light that Aburto — who confessed to the murder — was tortured by police, prison staff and officials with the PGR, as the Attorney General’s Office was then known.

It said it received a new complaint from Aburto seven months ago, in which he noted that “he has reported before this commission repeated and constant acts of torture” that began after his arrest in 1994.

“The new considerations and findings” point to “grave violations of human rights,” the CNDH said. It also said there were “multiple omissions” and “concealments” as well as violations of due process in the original investigation.

In that context, the FGR should carry out a new investigation into the case, the rights commission said. “The purpose of this new investigation or the reopening of the previous one will be to rectify deficiencies and to reach full clarification of the facts,” it said.

The CNDH also said that the OADPRS, the federal prisons authority, has violated Aburto’s rights by imprisoning him in jails far from where his family lives. He was previously incarcerated in a Tabasco prison and is currently believed to be in a Guanajuato jail.

His father told the newspaper Milenio that the CNDH has asked federal authorities on several occasions to transfer his son to a prison in Baja California, where it would be easier for his family to visit him. But the requests have been denied.

Luis Donaldo Colosio
Millions of Mexicans believe that the Institutional Revolutionary Party, which held the presidency at the time, was responsible for Colosio’s murder. @colosioriojas/Instagram

Rubén Aburto asserted that his son is a scapegoat of the government of former president Carlos Salinas, who was in office when Colosio was murdered.

“The real murderers are free. They grabbed a person and said ‘it was you,’” he said.

All governments over the past 27 years have continued to cover up for the true culprits, Rubén Aburto charged.

“We even sent a letter to [President] López Obrador, and he said he would pass it on to the interior minister [Olga Sánchez at the time] … but the minister said there were no elements to [re]open the case. We investigated who she was, and [it turns out] she’s another Salinas person,” he said.

Rubén Aburto, who lives in Los Angeles, told Milenio that his son — sentenced to 42 years in prison — is currently trying to obtain an early release by having “false declarations” removed from his file.

“He told me a month ago that he wanted my wife to go to see him because he was going to give her some papers so she could take them to a judge in Toluca,” he said, adding that he hasn’t heard from his son since and that his wife still hasn’t traveled to Guanajuato to visit Mario and collect the papers.

Luis Donaldo Colosio monument in Los Pinos residence
Colosio’s assassination continues to haunt Mexico. His monument is displayed in Los Pinos, the official presidential residence. Fernando Macias Romo/Shutterstock

Rubén Aburto said that he is considering taking his son’s case to the United Nations in New York. Mario, now 50, is almost blind and has severe gastrointestinal problems and leg injuries he sustained while being tortured, he said.

Rubén Aburto made an audio recording available to Milenio in which Mario pleaded his innocence.

“… We will avoid any aspiration to shelve the Colosio case,” Mario said in the tape he sent to his father, adding that there is a “significant quantity” of studies, testimonies and other evidence that support his claim that he is innocent. He also told his father he is a political prisoner, a victim of torture and a scapegoat.

The CNDH’s recommendation for a new investigation will be submitted to the lower house of Congress. The rights commission also urged the FGR and the OADPRS to compensate Aburto and his family and offer them medical and psychological care.

With reports from El País and Milenio

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