Kidnapped Mexican Priest Is Found Alive But Tortured

Mexican soldiers stand guard next to weapons seized from alleged drug traffickers.Reuters

A priest and human rights activist abducted in Mexico has been found alive but tortured, the Roman Catholic Church said yesterday.

Father Jose Luis Sanchez Ruiz was abducted in the state of Veracruz, said the Associated Press, the third priest to have been kidnapped since September.

The other two were shot and killed.

Accordng to Bishop Fidencio Lopez, Sanchez Ruiz "had been dumped, with notable signs of torture" at an undisclosed location.

Residents of his home town of Catemaco protested for two days after his abduction, burning part of the town hall and a police patrol truck while demanding his release.

The spokesman for the diocese, Fr Aaron Reyes, told the Milenio television news channel Sanchez Ruiz had been threatened because of his activism.

The priest "had received threats in recent days because he is a defender of human rights and social causes. He has criticised the system of corruption and the crime problem in Catemaco," Reyes said.

Sanchez Ruiz had taken part in a recent protest against high electricity bills.

At least 31 priests have been killed in Mexico since 2006, most of them in areas plagued by drug violence.

Mexico's Catholic Media Centre says Veracruz, Guerrero and Mexico states are the most dangerous for priests. Along with Michoacan, they are among the states with the worst drug-cartel problems.