A federal judge has ordered a new probe into the 2014 Tlatlaya massacre to establish what role, if any, Army commanders played in the incident that left 22 civilians dead.
Soldiers killed the suspected band of criminals in a warehouse in the small state of México town in June 2014. Army authorities initially said that all of the victims had been killed during a shootout they say was started by the alleged criminals and that soldiers had acted in self-defense.
However, the Associated Press (AP) discovered evidence at the massacre site that didn’t match the official military account.
Rather than evidence of a gun battle, AP reported that the patterns of bullet holes in warehouse walls and surrounding splatters of blood suggested that execution style killings had occurred with victims shot at chest level while standing against a wall. The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) subsequently investigated and corroborated the AP finding.
Now, a judge has ruled that the federal Attorney General’s office (PGR) did not investigate an alleged military order for soldiers to “shoot down criminals in hours of darkness.”
The ruling stated that the PGR “has not diligently conducted any diverse investigation into the facts or the orders issued to military elements through the chain of command.” It was made in response to a criminal complaint filed by the mother of one of the victims.
The investigation has been dogged by controversy including allegations of cover-ups that extended to federal and state prosecutors and torture. Four former investigators with the state of México Attorney General’s office were given jail sentences for torturing three women who survived the bloodshed to force them to support the Army’s version of events.
All but one soldier arrested in relation to the case were acquitted due to a lack of evidence while the one convicted has already served a one-year sentence for disobedience.
The Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Prodh) said in June that the investigation had been flawed and indicated that the latest ruling confirmed that there are problems with the enforcement of justice in Mexico.
The PGR did not respond to requests for comment on the ruling from AP.
The case, along with the disappearance of 43 teaching students in Iguala, Guerrero, has been one of the biggest human rights scandals of Enrique Peña Nieto’s presidency.