Monday, June 17, 2024

Soldier was buried alive during special forces training session in 2020

The death of a soldier who was buried alive during a desert training session in 2020 has come to light after the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) announced it had raised the case with National Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval.

The CNDH said in a statement Tuesday that it had issued a recommendation to Sandoval “derived from serious violations of human rights” in the case of an unidentified soldier who died during a training course in Mexicali, Baja California, due to the “actions and oversights” of army personnel responsible for giving the course.

The commission said it conducted an investigation after receiving a complaint in December 2020.

“The investigation showed that on November 24, 2020, a special forces course was carried out in the desert. When the participants were covering bunkers they had previously dug, the … instructor ordered the victim to enter bunker number 8,” it said, adding that the soldier did as he was told.

Once the soldier was inside the bunker, the instructor ordered other troops to cover it, the CNDH said. “They threw dirt and buried him,” the statement said.

According to the CNDH, four more soldiers were ordered to enter the same bunker, after which it was covered again with dirt and sand. Other soldiers proceeded to take photos and laugh about what had happened, the commission said, citing testimonies it collected.

“Aided by colleagues who were outside the bunker, four of the buried [soldiers] managed to leave,” the CNDH said. But one of the soldiers – presumably the first to enter the bunker – didn’t exit and his fellow troops apparently didn’t immediately realize that he remained underground.

The CNDH said that one of the soldiers who had been underground noticed that he had lost his firearm’s magazine and returned to the bunker to retrieve it. In doing so he found his colleague unconscious. The soldier was taken to hospital but when he arrived he had no vital signs, the CNDH said. It was later determined that he had died from suffocation.

“The investigations of the CNDH demonstrate that the victim was deprived of his life due to the actions and oversights of those who were in charge of the training,” the statement said.

“… The public servants in charge didn’t attempt to comply with the duty of care [required] to guarantee the safety of the course participants. In addition, the lack of supervision with respect to irregular practices soldiers carry out as ‘punishment methods’ was demonstrated.”

The CNDH called on the National Defense Ministry (Sedena) to enroll people affected by the events in the National Registry of Victims and to compensate and offer ongoing medical and psychological care to the deceased soldier’s family members. The compensation should be a “fair and sufficient” amount that takes the seriousness of the incident into account, the statement said.

The CNDH also urged Sedena to collaborate with the military court tasked with hearing the case against the army personnel allegedly responsible for the soldier’s death. “It is also essential to contribute to the lines of investigation that have not yet been exhausted … in order to clarify the events related to the death of the victim,” the CNDH said.

In addition, the rights commission asked Sedena to collaborate with authorities on the execution of an arrest warrant against one of the accused, and requested that the ministry provide comprehensive human rights training to members of special training centers in Temamatla, México state, and Laguna Salada, Baja California, in order to avoid a repeat of any similar incident.

Mexico News Daily 

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