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Crusader's family firm burned down

Relatives of an anti-crime crusader who was gunned down this week outside a Mexican state governor's office had their family business burned down on Saturday by arsonists.

The blaze that consumed the lumber operation in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, Texas, was apparently set intentionally, the local fire department said in a statement.

The business belongs to the family of Jose Monge, the husband of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, who waged a two-year battle to bring her 17-year-old daughter's killer to justice before she herself was shot dead.

State prosecutors had not received a formal complaint about the fire and did not say whether it was believed to be related to Ms Escobedo's murder.

Her daughter, Rubi Frayre Escobedo, disappeared in Ciudad Juarez in 2008, and her burned, dismembered remains were found in a bin the following June.

Ms Escobedo launched a campaign pressing for justice in the case, staging numerous marches including one when she wore no clothes, wrapped only in a banner with her daughter's photograph.

The main suspect in the killing, Sergio Barraza, was ordered to be released in April for lack of evidence, and this week Ms Escobedo planted herself in front of the offices of Governor Cesar Duarte and vowed not to move until investigators showed progress in the case. Security video recorded her killing on Thursday night outside the building by masked gunmen who pulled up in a car and shot her in the head.

Barraza is now a chief suspect in Ms Escobedo's murder, according to Carlos Gonzalez, a spokesman for the attorney general's office in Chihuahua state. Three judges who ordered Barraza's release have been suspended pending an investigation.

Drug gang violence has helped make Ciudad Juarez one of the world's deadliest cities. More than 3,000 people have been killed in the city of 1.3 million this year alone.

In the 1990s, hundreds of women were killed around Ciudad Juarez, about 100 of whom were sexually assaulted and dumped in the desert.


From Belfast Telegraph