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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grisly Remains Add Fire To Salinas Murder Case

MEXICO CITY -- Bones. Hair. And a mud-covered human skull. These remains -- discovered at a ranch belonging to a former president's brother -- may strengthen the case against him in one of Mexico's most notorious political killings.

Mexican prosecutors suspect the skull, bones and hair, unearthed Wednesday, are those of a man who conspired with Raul Salinas de Gortari to kill a political rival.

Raul Salinas is the elder brother of former President Carlos Salinas. Scion of a powerful political clan, Carlos Salinas left Mexico in disgrace soon after his term ended in December 1994; he was blamed for corruption and for the collapse of the country's economy.

Raul Salinas has been jailed since February 1995 on charges of plotting the murder of a top ruling party official, Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu. He says he is innocent. But prosecutors say Wednesday's discovery could represent powerful new evidence in the case against Raul Salinas, if forensic tests identify the remains as those of Salinas' alleged conspirator, Manuel Munoz Rocha.

"This is an impressive discovery and very important for us," said Pablo Chapa Bezanilla, the special prosecutor assigned to the Ruiz Massieu case, in a television interview.

Munoz Rocha, a federal congressman for the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, disappeared after the Sept. 28, 1994, slaying of Ruiz Massieu in Mexico City. Police have long believed Munoz Rocha was dead.

Prosecutors theorize that Munoz Rocha fled to the central Mexican city of Pachuca, about 100 kilometers northeast of the capital, after the Ruiz Massieu slaying and then returned to Mexico City for a meeting with Raul Salinas.

Attorney General Antonio Lozano Gracia said the bones found Wednesday were those of a man and that authorities were treating the case as a homicide.

Although elated at the apparent breakthrough, prosecutors were cautious about judging the evidence.

"The concrete fact is that we have found a set of bones," Lozano told reporters at a news conference Wednesday night. "We will have to make all the studies necessary to identify plainly who it is, or was. We calculate that could take three weeks or a month."

One of Raul Salinas' lawyers, Eduardo Luengo Creel, told a television interviewer that the remains were "not necessarily" those of Munoz Rocha. The Ruiz Massieu assassination came six months after the ruling PRI presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio was shot and killed at a political rally. The two slayings rocked Mexico during a crucial election year. More than two years later, both crimes remain unsolved.

Raul Salinas also faces charges of amassing an illegal fortune while a public servant in a government food agency of his brother's administration. More than $100 million has been discovered in overseas bank accounts he held.