Nov 6, 2008

Accidental or intentional death of Mexican security officials in plane crash

Copyright (2007/2008) Peace Books and Peace at the Border

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Special to this blog
By Kelly McKenzie

(Nov. 6, 2008) -- The deaths of high-level Mexican officials in a plane crash in Mexico City has fueled speculation that the incident may have been provoked. At the same time, major Mexican media companies rushed to pronounce it was an accident, before an investigation was under way.
According to the Associated Press, the plane carried nine people, and among them were Interior Secretary Juan Camilo Mouriño, and former organized crime investigative official José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, who had received death threats before.
The Lear jet fell in Mexico City in a busy intersection near Los Pinos, the presidential house. It narrowly missed hitting any buildings. At least five other people were killed on the ground when the plane wrecked and dozens more were injured.
The plane was returning from San Luis Potosi, where officials had attended a conference announcing a program for migrants. It was headed to the Mexico City airport.
Email commentaries posted on news Web sites ranged from people believing it was an accident to others who suspected foul play. True to form, Mexican officials were quick to dismiss any theories of sabotage.
One commentary posted by a Mexican national newspaper alleged that a mechanic was paid $10,000 to disconnect the airplane's sensors before it left San Luis Potosi; the commentary was quickly removed from the Web site.
Another commentary by a witness at the scene described a group of men wearing suits and sporting military-style haircuts reviewing the wreckage and making mysterious phone calls confirming there were no survivors. The men left without attempting to help the wounded at the scene.
Some witnesses said the plane was in flames before it fell. Officials gave contradictory statements, first saying the pilot had called the tower to report an emergency before losing contact, and later officials said there was no such call. Many people reported not being able to make phone calls for a short time when the plane crashed.
Aviation accident experts from the United States and England arrived this week to assist with the investigation. However, it will be up to the Mexican authorities to announce the results.
[Other sources: El Universal e-readers, La Jornada, Reuters, USA Today, New York Times.]