Wed, Dec 22, 2010 - Page 7 News List

Mexican political figure released after kidnapping

AP, MEXICO CITY

Former PAN senator Diego Fernandez de Cevallos stands outside his house in Mexico City on Monday.

PHOTO: REUTERS

Former Mexican presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos re-emerged on Monday outside a family home in Mexico City after a seven-month kidnap ordeal, for which he forgave his abductors.

“I’m well, thank God. I’m strong and my life will continue being the same,” the now heavily bearded politician told a crowd of news media, in his first physical appearance since vanishing in central Mexico on May 15.

The politician, nicknamed “Jefe Diego,” or “Boss Diego” for his influential role in Mexico’s ruling conservative party, did not give details of his abductors, but forgave them.

“As for the kidnappers, of course as a man of faith I’ve pardoned [them], and as a citizen I believe the authorities have a job still to do,” he said.

Fernandez de Cevallos, who is also a lawyer, also thanked the news media for acting in a “professional and human” manner.

The 69-year-old vanished after driving to his ranch in the central Mexican state of Queretaro, in one of the most high-profile abductions in recent Mexican history.

A prominent member of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), the brash, cigar-smoking politician ran for president in 1994, losing to former president Ernesto Zedillo of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI).

Mexican President Felipe Calderon said in a statement on Monday that investigations into the kidnap would continue, after the family had asked to suspend a manhunt, reportedly so they could negotiate with the abductors.

A family spokesman earlier announced the release, after Televisa, the main television network, reported that he was with his relatives.

It was still unclear who had snatched the politician.

The kidnapping was at first blamed on leftist guerrillas, but the small Popular Revolutionary Army (EPR), which operates in southern Mexico, rejected a role in the abduction.

Newspapers on Sunday published a message from an unidentified group calling itself “The Mysterious Disappearers,” claiming the crime as a “political blow to the plutocracy” of the country.

In July, a photo appeared showing the politician, shirtless and blindfolded, holding the June issue of a prominent Mexican magazine.

The El Universal daily reported in October that his family had paid US$20 million for a ransom and that a release was planned for early last month.

It then reported late last month that Fernandez de Cevallos had already been released, citing an unnamed relative.

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