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Victims of soldiers in 2010 shooting. Victims of soldiers in 2010 shooting.

90mn pesos sought for murder by army

Couple were caught in crossfire in shootout between army, crime gang

Surviving family members of a couple shot and killed by Mexican soldiers in Nuevo León six years ago are going after the army for 90 million pesos in reparation.

Rocío Elías Garza and her husband, Juan Carlos Peña Chavarría, left their place of work in the city of Anáhuac at noon on March 3, 2010 to go for lunch. But minutes later they found themselves in the midst of a shootout between criminal gang members and the Mexican Army.

The couple sought cover but, as investigators determined later, Peña was injured in the crossfire. When the shooting ended his wife called out for help and the two walked into the open with their arms raised.

But the soldiers responded with gunfire. Peña was hit six times, his wife 14.

The investigation also found that soldiers planted guns on each of the two victims to make them appear members of the gang they had been fighting, and invented a story that portrayed Elías Garza as a drug trafficker nicknamed La Gata, or The Cat, and her husband as a hitman.

Five years after, Corporal Juan Ortiz Bermúdez was sentenced to 18 years for homicide, the only person jailed in connection with the murders although the family’s lawyers claim that the investigation found three soldiers were responsible.

The couple’s family — parents, siblings and children — is now seeking compensation from Sedena, the Defense Secretariat, for moral damage. The 90-million-peso total is the largest ever sought.

“The nature and characteristics of the violation of the prestige and good name of the victims seriously infringe upon their image and honor . . . .” says the family’s claim.

The couple left two children who were aged three and eight at the time.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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