Assassination Witness Deported

Thursday, November 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DETROIT (AP) — A man who says he witnessed the assassination of a Mexican presidential candidate and could be killed there if he returns has been sent back to his native country.

Jorge Amaral Munoz was deported Wednesday after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied his appeal of an immigration judge's Feb. 10 ruling that he did not qualify for asylum because he had not demonstrated political repression.

The Mexican government news agency Notimex quoted ``sources close to the case'' as saying that Amaral would appear in front of a judge Thursday in Tijuana, Mexico, on charges of giving false testimony.

Amaral's Detroit-based attorney, Tamara French, said she learned her client was being deported when her assistant called her at home around 4:30 p.m.

``It's a constant struggle for immigration attorneys to know the status of their clients,'' she said.

Mike Gilhooly, a public affairs director for the Immigration and Naturalization Service, said the lack of notification is consistent with protocol.

``We don't routinely make public statements about the itinerary or the time we removed someone from the United States for operation and security reasons,'' he said.

French has said that Amaral, 39, was standing in a crowd in Tijuana when Luis Donaldo Colosio of the Institutional Revolutionary Party was assassinated during a campaign stop in 1994.

The Mexican government says the assassination was the act of a mentally unstable, lone gunman, and that the myriad of conspiracy theories surrounding the death are groundless.

French said Amaral fled in 1997 to the United States after his life was threatened in Mexico.

She said she was saddened that the appeals court ``didn't recognize the danger he could be put into'' when it didn't grant Amaral's appeal.

``I have a real concern about ... his treatment once he arrives there.''