Yet another version has emerged of the events surrounding the death of 22 suspects at the hands of soldiers in the town of Tlatlaya on June 30. For two months, both state and federal officials denied that any wrongdoing had occurred, saying that all the victims had died in a shootout even as local and international press reported on witnesses’ claims that all but one of the victims had been executed.
This continued until late September, when Mexico’s Defense Ministry (SEDENA) announced the arrest of eight personnel in connection with the death (this has since risen to 16). Two weeks later, the office of the Attorney General (PGR) announced that four soldiers would be prosecuted for the alleged murder of eight suspects, while the remaining 14 had been killed in an exchange of gunfire.
Now, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has turned this story on its head. In a summary of the group’s own investigation (.pdf) released yesterday, CNDH President Raul Plascencia called on the SEDENA, PGR and the government of Mexico state to widen their inquiries into the Tlatlaya killings, saying that it had established that soldiers executed at least 12 and probably 15 of the 22. Contrary to the military’s claims, the initial firefight lasted no more than ten minutes, as the suspects surrendered quickly. As Animal Politico reports, the CNDH accused the soldiers of rearranging their bodies after the incident in order to make the deaths fit the official story.
It remains to be seen how the government will respond to the CNDH’s non-binding recommendations, but the continued absence of the 43 disappeared students in Guerrero and the continued discovery of unrelated mass graves in the area do not exactly inspire confidence in Mexican authorities.
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