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Investigators testing skeleton found on Raul Salinas' ranch

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October 10, 1996
Web posted at: 10:00 p.m. EDT

MEXICO CITY (CNN) -- Mexican investigators Thursday began tests on a skull and bones dug up Wednesday on the ranch of Raul Salinas, the brother of Mexico's former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari. Raul Salinas is already in prison and awaiting trial for the assassination of a senior Mexican politician, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, who was shot outside his hotel two years ago.

The remains are believed to be those of Manuel Munoz Rocha, the man authorities believe helped Salinas plot Ruiz Massieu's murder two years ago. Munoz Rocha disappeared shortly afterwards.

"Through information we obtained, we were able to locate precisely the place where Mr. Munoz Rocha was allegedly buried," said Mexican Attorney General Antonio Lozano.

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Mexican authorities are trying to determine whether the human remains found on his property are those of Munoz Rocha, and whether they implicate Salinas in the murder. Salinas has been in jail since February 1995, but up to now, detectives had found no hard leads to tie him to the Massieu assassination.

The dearth of evidence until now has prompted Salinas' defense attorney to cry foul.

"We believe highly this body could have been planted in that site, since the way the attorney general's office found it, through an anonymous call, which is unbelievable for an accusation of this degree," said Salinas' attorney, Eduardo Lungo Creel.

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Salinas' attorney isn't the only skeptical party in Mexico. Mexican journalists, often suspicious of official investigations because they have seen the government lie in the past, pointed out that the skull was cut in two and had a surgical incision around its circumference. Such marks would be unusual in a murder.

Lozano admitted that investigators have been saddled in this case with a poor reputation, but suggested that the surgical cuts could have been made to confuse investigators and make the body harder to identify. In any case, he said, the accusation of planting evidence is nonsense.

"When the forensic evidence is handed down, I think the facts will become clear. The allegations of body planting are irresponsible," he said.

The forensic evidence he refers to, a positive identification of the body, could take up to a month.

Correspondent Lucia Newman and Reuters contributed to this report.

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