Clip from video footage of the confrontation in Puebla last year. Clip from video footage of the confrontation in Puebla last year.

Military, police executed 2, planted weapons in Puebla confrontation last year

Rights commission finds 'serious violations' in clashes that killed 10 people

Soldiers and state police arbitrarily executed two people and planted weapons on two bodies during clashes with suspected fuel thieves in Puebla last year, according to an investigation by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

Two confrontations on May 3, 2017 in Palmarito, a community in the municipality of Quecholac, left four soldiers and six presumed criminals dead as well as a further 26 people wounded. Nine adults and four minors were arrested.

The CNDH also said that military and police mistreated 12 people, including three minors, arbitrarily detained two children and manipulated a corpse.

The investigation revealed “serious violations of human rights, personal liberty and presumption of innocence . . .” the commission’s report said.

It also charged that the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR), the state oil company Pemex, the Puebla Attorney General’s office, the Puebla Secretariat of Public Security and a Puebla state court violated their legal responsibilities in relation to the case.

The PGR, it said, failed to submit copies of its relevant files to the CNDH, which amounts to an “obstruction of the right of access to justice to the detriment of victims, their families and society.”

The CNDH said it was concerned about the “prevailing impunity” of the crime of pipeline theft, stating that those arrested are not referred to the relevant authorities and don’t ultimately face justice.

In addition to outlining its findings, the government-backed but fully independent commission also made a series of recommendations to authorities.

Among those were instructions to the head of the Secretariat of National Defense (Sedena) and the governor of Puebla to pay compensation to all victims and to cooperate with investigations into the military and police personnel involved.

The CNDH said the PGR must continue its investigations into the homicides and injuries that occurred on May 3, 2017, and address complaints about irregularities relating to the investigation into the extrajudicial killings of two people.

Pemex should also cooperate with the PGR’s investigations and its facilities shouldn’t be used to hold people who have been arrested, the commission said.

It also called on the governor of Puebla to implement policies to combat pipeline theft in the area known as the Red Triangle, which is notorious for the presence of fuel thieves known as huachicoleros, and to take steps to professionalize the state’s police forces.

Source: Milenio (sp) 

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