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Wife Held in Spanish Killing

June 20, 1999

MADRID, Spain (AP) _ Police probing the shooting of a lawyer who defended big-name corruption and murder suspects arrested his wife on suspicion of hiring hitmen to kill him, newspapers reported Sunday.

Laura Fernandez, 28, was arrested Saturday night when she went to see her husband, Jose Emilio Rodriguez Menendez, 52, in the intensive care unit of a Madrid hospital, the newspapers El Mundo and El Pais said.

Police were not immediately available to confirm the report.

The newspapers said police declined to say what made them suspect the woman had put a contract out on her husband. The couple had only been married for 11 months.

Fernandez’ arrest came a day after police detained seven people in connection with the shooting, among them the alleged gunman.

Rodriguez was shot Thursday night as he arrived at his suburban Madrid home in a Mercedes with his wife, a bodyguard and another lawyer. Police say the gunman was riding on the back of a motorcycle driven by another man.

The bodyguard fired eight shots as the attackers sped away. One of the men arrested Friday had a gunshot wound in the buttocks, the newspapers said.

Rodriguez was struck by a single bullet that punctured a lung, and has undergone surgery twice since the attack, said officials at San Carlos Hospital, where he is being treated. Rodriguez remained in serious but stable condition in the intensive care unit Sunday, hospital officials said.

Among his current clients, Rodriguez is defending a man accused in a 1984 killing that was allegedly connected with a government ``dirty war″ against the armed Basque separatist group ETA.

Earlier this year, he defended an alleged neo-fascist soccer fan accused of fatally stabbing a Basque team’s supporter.

As a prosecutor, Rodriguez took part in the 1997 trial of Luis Roldan, who was convicted of embezzling millions of dollars while serving as the Civil Guard director between 1986 and 1993.

In the late 1980s, he defended two policemen found guilty of killing a petty criminal and getting rid of his body.

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