A judge has ordered a criminal investigation into the alleged torture and kidnapping of an American citizen by municipal police in Taxco, Guerrero, three years ago.
Ronald James Wooden, a metal worker, had moved to the town famous for its silver jewelry to set up a workshop, but a neighbor, who claimed to belong to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, soon began demanding a protection payment of 10,000 pesos a month.
Police were called after the neighbor appeared with a machete and threatened to send Wooden back to the U.S. in pieces, the Associated Press reported.
But police went directly for the American, allegedly kicking and punching him, before they arrested him. “They beat me for close to four hours,” Wooden said. “Some would get tired and then others would come in. They were going to kill me and disappear me.”
He said he suffered nerve damage, broken ribs and injuries to his genitals.
Wooden believes it was “divine intervention and the love that my family has for me”
that saved him. His Mexican wife spent hours waiting outside the police station to pay a 200-peso fine and take her husband to a hospital.
Two years ago, the state’s Human Rights Commission found that Taxco police had illegally detained Wooden and lied about his injuries. Municipal authorities were ordered to punish those responsible and pay compensation.
On June 30, after two years of no action, a federal judge ordered a formal investigation into the case.
The lawyer for a human rights group known as Idheas, which is representing Wooden, says the ruling “opens a new road, little explored and little used” to force authorities to investigate thousands of torture complaints.
“We know there are hundreds or thousands of torture complaints all the time in the country,” said Mario Santiago. “There is no investigation; these go unpunished.”
Taxco’s former police chief was arrested just last month on organized crime and kidnapping charges. Eruviel Salado Chávez has also been accused of links to the Guerreros Unidos.
Source: Associated Press (en)