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HUMAN RIGHTS ATTORNEY FATALLY SHOT IN MEXICO

A prominent human rights lawyer who has defended Zapatista sympathizers was killed after receiving several death threats, and a note left with her body warned that the same could happen to others, Mexico City's attorney general said Saturday.

Digna Ochoa was found dead Friday after being shot in the head and leg, Attorney General Bernardo Batiz said. Her body was found at the office of two fellow human rights attorneys where she had been working.

A note, directed at Ochoa's Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center and presumably left by the killers, warned: "If they continue, this will also happen to another. You have been advised. This is not a trick."

Batiz's office was investigating previous death threats Ochoa had received. But Edgar Cortez, the center's director, called the investigations insufficient.

Though Ochoa had received protection in the past, Cortez said, she had left the country on business and was not given government guards when she returned in April.

Ochoa often had defended rebel sympathizers in southern Mexico, including those jailed for supporting Zapatistas, who led a 1994 uprising in Chiapas state.

"This was a person who never shied away from taking on the toughest and most sensitive cases," Daniel Wilkinson, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, said in a telephone interview from New York. "She broke ground on using the Mexican legal system for defending human rights victims."

Ochoa's cases included those of anti-logging activists Rodolfo Montiel, who in August 2000 was sentenced to six years in prison on drug and weapons charges, and Teodoro Cabrera Garcia, who received a 10-year term.

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