A federal judge in Zacatecas has opened a trial against four army officials for allegedly kidnapping and murdering seven civilians in the municipality of Calera on July 7.
According to relatives, the seven victims were accused by the soldiers of concealing weapons and drugs, and were violently arrested. Their bodies were found days later in two different locations.
One of the four soldiers, Col. Martín Pérez Reséndiz, has been singled as being directly responsible for the crime. Also charged are José Manuel Castañeda Hernández, Víctor Manuel González Alderete and Juan Ordóñez Prado, all of whom are stationed at the 11th Military Zone of Guadalupe, Zacatecas.
The National Defense Secretary has since warned there will be zero tolerance for Armed Forces officials who, by act or omission, threaten the lives, human rights, security or belongings of the broader population. Gen. Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda said army officials in such situations deserve to be tried by authorities.
He also exhorted army and navy officials to “continue fighting illegality with legality, and to continue serving the people without lowering their behavior to the standards of criminals.”
Cienfuegos highlighted the importance of unity among Mexicans and the commitment of the Army to serve the country, particularly under the present conditions. He added that it was imperative for the Army to have the support of the population.
“We cannot indulge those who promote social degradation and decomposition, who attack the institutions, who violate the rule of law to further their petty personal or group interests,” he added.
Cienfuegos spoke at a ceremony where the National Academy, an independent research group, awarded him the Grand Order of Reformation, Honor Rank and Collar Grade for his career-long contributions to “the exaltation, improvement, and wellness of Mexico.”
The military Attorney General will continue its investigations of the Calera case as there are indications of involvement by more Army officials.