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Prosecutors allege Mexican politician slain by his understudy

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MEXICO CITY -- Mexico was rattled this month when two politicians from the soon-to-be-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, were killed within 48 hours of each other.

One of the crimes was apparently solved Friday, when prosecutors in the state of Mexico announced that PRI congressman Jaime Serrano Cedillo was slain by his wife after a nasty marital spat.

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The details of the second case are proving to be stranger: Prosecutors in the border state of Sonora on Monday alleged that Eduardo Castro Luque, a state deputy-elect, was slain by the man he had picked to take his place in office in case he died after the election.

In the Mexican electoral system, candidates for such offices usually choose an alternate, known in Spanish as a suplente, to take their place if they die or are otherwise unable to serve.

Sonora’s state prosecutor accused Castro’s suplente, Manuel Alberto Fernandez Felix, 24, of paying a hit man a little more than $3,000 to kill Castro. Fernandez also allegedly paid about $775 to a suspect who helped him find a hit man who would do the work.

Officials said Castro was killed by masked assassins who fled the scene on a motorcycle.

Fernandez was considered a fugitive from justice Monday. Prosecutors issued charges against two other men in the case and said their investigation would determine whether more people were involved.

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-- Richard Fausset


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