Sun, Feb 27, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Relatives of activist found dead

GRUESOME:The victims appear to have been buried, then dug up again and left on a road, as if someone wanted to call attention to their deaths

AP, CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO

Marisela Reyes, left, sister of slain human rights activist Josefina Reyes Salazar, reacts as she arrives outside the senate building in downtown Mexico City on Friday.

Photo: Reuters

Mexican police on Friday discovered the bodies of three people related to a human rights activist who was killed last year in the volatile northern border state of Chihuahua.

The bodies of a sister and brother of Josefina Reyes and her sister-in-law were found in the desert outside Guadalupe Distrito Bravos, southeast of Ciudad Juarez, said Carlos Gonzalez, spokesman for the state prosecutor’s office.

The three had been missing since Feb. 7, when witnesses reported that armed men forced the trio from a vehicle.

The bodies of Maria Magdalena Reyes Salazar, Elias Reyes Salazar and his wife, Luisa Ornelas, were found with messages alluding to organized crime, according to Gonzalez, who did not immediately release details.

Their bodies appear to have been buried, then dug up again and left on a road, as if someone wanted to call attention to their deaths.

The discovery led surviving relatives to demand justice, urging Mexican President Felipe Calderon to act with the same determination used to pursue the killers of Jaime Zapata, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent who was fatally shot in northern Mexico on Feb. 15.

The Mexican army on Wednesday detained alleged drug trafficker, Julian Zapata Espinoza, and two other men in connection with the shooting, which also wounded another ICE agent, Victor Avila.

“Just as they have solved the crime against Zapata, I want them to solve the crime against my siblings,” Claudia Reyes, a sister of the victims, told reporters at a protest site set up in front of the Senate in Mexico City.

The family said they will continue to protest for justice despite concern for their safety.

Congresswoman Leticia Quezada, an opposition party member who sat with the family during the news conference, said Calderon and other officials would be held responsible “if anything else happens to the Reyes Salazar family.”

Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International called on the Mexican government to provide protection for the remaining family members.

Josefina Reyes was slain a year ago in Ciudad Juarez. She had led protests against alleged abuses by Mexican soldiers in the Juarez Valley, which sits across from El Paso, Texas.

Last August, unknown assailants killed her brother Ruben. Earlier this month, the home of Reyes’ mother, Sara Salazar, was set on fire while she was protesting the crimes against her family.

“The Reyes Salazar family, since the death of Josefina in 2010, has been the victim of a brutal harassment, partly by the state and partly by criminality,” a spokesman for the family, Adrian Fuentes, told MVS Radio. “The demand for justice will not stop.”

The Reyes family’s case has led organizations such as Amnesty International to urge Mexico to protect the safety of human rights activists.

Ciudad Juarez has been the scene of bloody drug cartel turf battles that have killed more than 6,000 people the past two years.

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