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Father of Accused Killer of Candidate Refuses to Testify

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The father of the man accused of assassinating a leading Mexican presidential candidate has refused to testify about his son in a Los Angeles court, making it unlikely that he will speak with investigators before the upcoming national elections in Mexico, if ever.

Ruben Aburto, appearing Wednesday before a special hearing in U.S. District Court, cited his right under Mexican law not to testify about a relative.

His son, Mario Aburto Martinez, a former Tijuana factory worker, is charged with the assassination of Luis Donaldo Colosio, the presidential aspirant shot dead March 23 at a rally in Tijuana.

The elder Aburto said he declined to testify because Mexican authorities have refused to let family members, independent lawyers and doctors visit his imprisoned son. The father also had called for the press and public to be present at the closed court session in Los Angeles.

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Peter A. Schey, the family’s Los Angeles lawyer, accused Mexican officials of ignoring the requests in an effort to block the father’s potentially explosive testimony. Mexican authorities said the requests were unreasonable.

The statements of Aburto Sr., who lives in Los Angeles, were expected to yield indications of a conspiracy in Colosio’s killing. In interviews, the father has said his son met before the assassination with as many as five men, who were later linked to Colosio’s security detail for the fateful Tijuana rally.

U.S. prosecutors convened the unusual court session to assist their Mexican counterparts. Mexican authorities posed questions through an assistant U.S. attorney.

Polls have shown that Mexicans largely reject the government conclusion that a mentally unstable Aburto, harboring a hatred of Mexico’s governing elite, acted alone in Colosio’s killing.

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