Missing ex-candidate's son says case 'going well'

AP News
Posted: Oct 15, 2010 1:51 PM
Missing ex-candidate's son says case 'going well'

The son of kidnapped former Mexican presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallos said in a newspaper interview that efforts to win his father's freedom are "going well."

Fernandez de Cevallos, who ran unsuccessfully for president in 1994, has been missing since May 15 when his vehicle was found near his ranch in the central state of Queretaro with traces of blood on a pair of scissors.

"The only thing I can say is that everything is going well," said his son, Rodrigo Fernandez de Cevallos, in an interview published Friday in El Sol de Mexico newspaper. "Believe me, everything is going well, even though we as a family cannot give much information."

He did not comment on a report that appeared in El Universal newspaper Thursday that the family had paid more than $20 million in ransom and the ex-candidate would soon be freed. El Universal cited sources close to the family.

The interview with the son Friday was the first time a relative has spoken publicly about the kidnapping. However, photographs of the ex-candidate in captivity have been sent to the Mexican media, along with some purported messages from his captors.

The Attorney General's Office has said it stopped investigating the case at the request of the family and refused to comment further on it.

Since his unsuccessful presidential campaign, Fernandez de Cevallos has remained a power-broker in the conservative National Action Party of current President Felipe Calderon.

His case is one of the most high-profile abductions in Mexico's history, demonstrating the increasing brashness of the country's criminal gangs.

Mexico's kidnapping rate _ one of the highest on the world _ has continued to climb despite numerous government efforts to crack down, including a recent law that increased the prison terms for kidnappings.

At least 1,128 kidnappings were reported nationwide in 2009, up from 907 the previous year, according to government figures compiled by the independent Citizens' Institute for Crime Studies.

However, the government acknowledges that the real number is much higher because most go unreported amid widespread distrust of police.