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Mexico Judge Ousts U.S.-Linked Case

March 31, 1998

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ Charges against a man who confessed to killing a U.S. business executive have been dropped for the second time, this time by a judge who spent only a few hours reviewing the case, a local newspaper reported Monday.

Sources in the prosecutors’ office complained that Judge Vicente Hernandez dismissed charges against Alfonso Sanchez less than 24 hours after receiving 2,000 pages of evidence against him, La Jornada reported.

Sanchez says he was forced to confess to the Dec. 15 shooting death of real estate executive Peter Zarate, killed during an apparent robbery attempt in Mexico City. Sanchez is being tried on robbery charges in another case.

Hernandez’s ruling, issued Friday, gave prosecutors 18 days to present additional evidence.

Judge Maria Claudia Campusano first ordered Sanchez and four other suspects released in January. Sanchez was the only suspect charged a second time with the killing.

Both judges cited insufficient or contradictory evidence against Sanchez.

Campusano said that the only evidence linking the suspects to Zarate’s killing were their confessions, which contradicted one another.

Campusano was suspended for three months without pay by a judicial oversight board for having used inappropriate language in her January ruling, in which she referred to Sanchez as a ``modern Robin Hood.″

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