Mexican Cardinal Sandoval Reveals He Was Poisoned

Links It to His Criticism of Murder Probe

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MEXICO CITY, JUNE 7, 2001 ( Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez, successor to the murdered archbishop of Guadalajara, revealed that he was poisoned two years ago and almost died.

Talk of the poisoning had circulated in the past, to explain Cardinal Sandoval´s inexplicable illness which kept him hospitalized for two months. But it wasn´t until Tuesday, at a news conference, that he confirmed the poisoning.

The cardinal attributed the attempt on his life to his statements against the conclusions of the investigations by Mexican authorities into the May 1993 murder of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo at the Guadalajara international airport.

Moreover, Cardinal Sandoval said that five witnesses, who testified in the case, received death threats and «offers of money.»

Last week, Cardinal Sandoval gave the Department of Justice of the state of Jalisco new evidence on his predecessor´s murder.

«It is clear,» he told reporters, that the murder was a «state crime» orchestrated by «elements of the government.» He noted that many security officers were present at the Guadalajara airport when Cardinal Posadas was shot.

Cardinal Sandoval said that the government of new President Vicente Fox «has all the necessary elements» to shed light on the murder.

The archbishop of Guadalajara refused to confirm or deny a report in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, in which journalist Andrea Tornielli pointed out that Cardinal Posadas had information that implicated former President Carlos Salinas de Gortari and his brother, Raúl, in drug trafficking.

During last month´s consistory in Rome, Cardinal Sandoval gave the Pope and his collaborators information on the 1993 murder. «I handed it over,» the Mexican prelate said, «and they will certainly not use it in any way to make it known to the public, but only for the files on the case, as it involved a cardinal.»

Meanwhile, Adolfo Aguilar Zínser, President Fox´s security adviser, said, «Our obligation and that of the Office of the General Procurator of the Republic will be to investigate to the ultimate consequences,» if there is evidence that the cardinal´s case was a «state crime.»

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