Mex­ico in­ves­ti­gates killing of 16 civil­ians, al­legedly by po­lice

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LAU­RENT THOMET

Mex­i­can pros­e­cu­tors and fed­eral po­lice in­ter­nal af­fairs are in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims that of­fi­cers killed 16 un­armed civil­ians in Jan­uary, au­thor­i­ties said Mon­day, in the lat­est abuse al­le­ga­tions to hit se­cu­rity forces.

In other vi­o­lence Mon­day, along the U. S. bor­der, po­lice clashed with al­leged kid­nap­pers in a fire­fight that left five al­leged ab­duc­tors dead and four po­lice in­jured in the north­west city of Caborca, pros­e­cu­tors said.

In­te­rior Min­is­ter Miguel An­gel Osorio Chong spoke a day af­ter a me­dia re­port said fed­eral po­lice opened fire on peo­ple wield­ing noth­ing more than sticks on Jan. 6 in Apatzin­gan, a city in the trou­bled west­ern state of Mi­choa­can.

The re­port by prom­i­nent jour­nal­ist Laura Castel­lanos, pub­lished Sun­day by the mag­a­zine Pro­ceso and the news web­site Aris­tegui Noti­cias, con­tra­dicts of­fi­cial ac­counts that nine peo­ple died in the cross­fire of a shootout be­tween po­lice and for­mer ru­ral mili­ti­a­men.

“We hope that the at­tor­neygen­eral’s of­fice will draw its own con­clu­sions and make them known,” Osorio Chong said, adding that the po­lice was co­op­er­at­ing and con­duct­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We are wait­ing for the re­sults of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and, with that, we will know what re­ally hap­pened that day in Apatzin­gan,” he told re­porters.

The Na­tional Se­cu­rity Com- mission said Satur­day that it had given pros­e­cu­tors a video it re­ceived anony­mously that ap­pears to show “an ex­ces­sive use of force or abuse of author­ity by fed­eral po­lice of­fi­cers” in Apatzin­gan.

But the fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s spe­cial se­cu­rity en­voy to Mi­choa­can at the time of the deaths, Al­fredo Castillo, de­fended his Jan­uary ac­count.

“I’m at peace and com­pletely cer­tain” of his ac­count, Castillo, who stepped down two weeks af­ter the shoot­ings, told Mile­nio tele­vi­sion.

He said what­ever ap­pears in the video was “prob­a­bly taken out of con­text.”

Castel­lanos’s re­port, based on 39 anony­mous wit­ness ac­counts, videos and au­dio record­ings, said of­fi­cers opened fire in two in­ci­dents.

In the first event, the re­port said, of­fi­cers shot at some 100 peo­ple who were demon­strat­ing in front of city hall at 2:30 a.m., with some po­lice shout­ing “kill them like dogs!”

The sec­ond shoot­ing came hours later, when of­fi­cers opened fire on a dozen ve­hi­cles car­ry­ing peo­ple who were chas­ing a po­lice con­voy, hop­ing to free their com­rades, the re­port said.

Of­fi­cials ar­rested at peo­ple that day.

The vi­o­lence erupted as the au­thor­i­ties planned to dis­solve Mi­choa­can’s “ru­ral force,” a unit com­prised of vig­i­lantes who were dep­u­tized af­ter they rose up against the Knights Tem­plar drug car­tel.

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