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URGENT With AM-Mexico-Candidates and AM-Mexico-Assassination-Video

March 29, 1994

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A second man is suspected of direct involvement in the assassination of Mexico’s leading presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio, a top investigator handling the case said Monday.

Rene Gonzalez de la Vega, deputy attorney general for investigations, also said others may have been involved in the killing last week. But he insisted that there was no wide conspiracy, a statement said.

The government has repeatedly insisted that Colosio was assassinated by a lone gunman - Mario Aburto Martinez, who confessed to the killing and is in jail.

But theories of a conspiracy have been circulating widely around the country, adding to the climate of uncertainty caused by the assassination.

As candidate of the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, Colosio was heavily favored to win the Aug. 21 presidential elections. His party has never lost a presidential race in its 65-year history.

The killing was the first major Mexican political assassination since 1928. Gonzalez identified the second suspect as Tranquilino Sanchez Venegas and said he may have acted along with Aburto.

Gonzalez said ″photographic material″ taken when Colosio was fatally shot in Tijuana last Wednesday was found in Sanchez Venegas’ possession and confiscated. No details were given.

″His conduct and his attitude when he was near the candidate and (close to) Aburto Martinez leads us to assume that he participated directly with the alleged killer,″ Gonzalez said in the statement.

Gonzalez said Sanchez Venegas, a retired security guard, was hired earlier Wednesday by a local PRI boss to help control the crowd.

He denied a published report that Sanchez Venegas was connected with army Gen. Domiro Garcia Reyes. Garcia Reyes, a member of President Carlos Salinas de Gortari’s guard, was head of Colosio’s security detail.

On Monday, the major Mexico City newspaper El Universal ran photographs showing Colosio moments before he was shot in Tijuana last Wednesday and suggested a man near his security chief could have been involved.

It identified the man in the picture as Sanchez Venegas and said he was a member of Colosio’s security detail. The paper suggested he may have opened the way through the campaign rally crowd for the gunman.

The government had previously said that all evidence so far suggests that Aburto, a plastics factory mechanic who has been charged with first-degree murder, acted by himself.

But many Mexicans, including leading opposition politicians, suggested otherwise.

″We think that behind the attack, an oligarchical group opposed to the democratic process was the one which armed the hand of the murderer,″ said Porfirio Munoz Ledo, a president of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party.

Local newspapers had quoted one doctor, Patricia Riedel Aubanel, as saying the bullet wounds to Colosio’s head and stomach were of two different calibers. The government later said she testified she was not a forensic specialist qualified to comment on such wounds.

In a related development, graphic new film of a shot being fired to Colosio’s head in a burst of blood was shown Monday on the Mexican TV network Televisa.

The tape, run in slow motion three times, shows an assassin not clearly identified putting a revolver against Colosio’s head and the gun going off. In the confusion, it was not clear whether an accomplice helped the shooter.

Update hourly