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Mexican Star’s Sidekick Investigated

July 23, 1999

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Mexican prosecutors are investigating whether a television host’s sidekick was involved in his gangland-style slaying last month.

Mario Rodriguez Bezares was placed under house arrest Thursday amid concerns he was planning to leave the country, said Susana Manterola of the city Attorney General’s Office.

The June 7 murder of TV star Francisco ``Paco″ Stanley shocked Mexico and rekindled fury at a crime wave that has lasted for years.

Rodriguez Bezares had accompanied Stanley to a restaurant just before the attack. Stanley was gunned down next to the restaurant, along a busy Mexico City freeway.

His assailants fired at least 26 bullets into his black Lincoln minivan, hitting Stanley seven times. Rodriguez Bezares reportedly escaped the gunmen by hiding in the restaurant’s bathroom.

Officials later revealed that Stanley was carrying cocaine and an illegally issued gun permit that falsely identified him as an employee of the federal Interior Secretariat.

The Attorney General’s Office said Rodriguez Bezares is being investigated for possibly planning, participating in or ordering the attack.

The case adds a new dimension to the men’s on-screen relationship, in which Bezares was the longtime, uncomplaining butt of Stanley’s heavy-handed jokes and gag humor.

Rodriguez Bezares, an employee of national broadcaster TV Azteca, called the station’s afternoon news program to talk about his house arrest.

``I can’t believe this,″ he said. ``They’re depriving me of my liberty and I don’t know why. I’m confused, because I have nothing to do with this.″

``I don’t know why this order has been issued,″ he said.

He also denied he planned to flee Mexico. Ruben Mendoza, Rodriguez’s lawyer, said he would appeal the arrest.

Stanley, 56, was one of Mexico’s most popular television and radio hosts. He worked for decades for the Televisa network, and two years ago switched over to the competition, TV Azteca, to host a variety show called ``Una Tras Otra,″ or ``One After Another.″

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