Mexican police executed 22 civilians in drug raid: Rights body
A human rights body has found that Mexican police killed nearly two dozen civilians in “arbitrary executions” during a raid against a drug cartel in the country’s troubled west last year.
The independent National Human Rights Commission said in a report on Thursday that the massacre happened in the federal police raid against the Jalisco Nueva Generacion cartel in the western state of Michoacan on May 22, 2015.
Police officers committed “violations of the right to life by excessive use of force that entailed the arbitrary execution of 22 civilians,” the commission said.
Meanwhile, commission chief Ismael Eslava said the government forces also perpetrated “aggravated acts of torture on two people who were detained.”
According to the commission report, forensic investigations indicated police had moved the bodies of those killed in the raid and placed guns next to them in an attempt to cover up the crime.
It also noted that a police helicopter fired 4,000 rounds into the farm where the suspects were hiding.
Responding to the document, Renato Sales, the chairman of Mexico’s National Security Committee, rejected the characterization of arbitrary executions and defended the actions of police.
He said the shooting erupted when the suspects refused to drop their weapons. “We do not think the theory of arbitrary executions stands up.”
The government said previously that the helicopter had fired to contain the suspects. It also said that the 42 people killed by police had attacked officers.
The commission report concluded that a total of 43 people were killed in the security operation, including one policeman and numerous suspected criminals, but only 22 of them were deemed arbitrary executions by police.
The commission also found fault with the actions of investigators from the Michoacan Attorney General’s Office, who mishandled ballistics evidence. Medical examiners likewise came under criticism for irregularities in the autopsies and delays in the return of bodies to their families.
The incident is considered as one of the bloodiest battles in the Mexican government’s decade-long campaign against powerful drug gangs across the Latin American state.
Official figures show that more than 35,000 people are currently missing in the country due to drug-related violence, which has also claimed thousands of lives over the past few years.
Police corruption, drug cartels and organized crime are the greatest challenges facing Mexico.
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