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Publisher of Mexican Paper Arrested

March 24, 1998

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ The publisher of a northern Mexican newspaper has been arrested on charges of violating election laws by publishing an opinion poll too close to elections.

Leoncio Aguilar Marquez, publisher of El Sudcaliforniano in La Paz, 700 miles south of San Diego, denied Monday having published a poll. He said the charges stemmed from an opinion piece that made predictions based on previous elections.

Aguilar Marquez said federal agents used violence while arresting him in his office on Wednesday. He said his left hand was injured while the agents put on handcuffs.

The attorney general’s office, which announced the arrest Monday, said it was investigating accusations of excessive force.

The charges were based on a complaint filed by a congressman from the center-right opposition National Action Party, which fared poorly in last July’s elections in the state of Baja California Sur.

Aguilar Marquez said he spent about 22 hours in jail.

He said arrest warrants also were issued for the author of the article and the newspaper’s news editor, but that both voluntarily made statements to the attorney general’s office and were not detained.

Mexican law prohibits the publication of opinion polls in the days before elections, but the law is often ignored.

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