Ciudad Juarez, Mexico: Boy 12 Among 18 Murdered In Single Day Of Drug Cartel Violence

13 Jul

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexican soldiers accused of rights abuses in the army-backed fight against drug cartels can face civil trials instead of closed-door military tribunals, the nation’s highest court ruled Tuesday.

Human rights groups say some Mexican soldiers battling traffickers have arbitrarily detained suspects, subjected them to beatings or torture and even mistakenly shot innocent civilians.

Military courts handle the cases in a process activists say limits transparency, but Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision could change that.

“If a civilian’s rights have been violated by the armed forces, the jurisdiction will be in civil courts not military courts,” Supreme Court Justice Arturo Zaldivar said.

President Felipe Calderon deployed tens of thousands of troops to the streets to take on powerful traffickers shortly after taking office in late 2006. Violence has spiraled since then, with more than 40,000 people killed across Mexico.

Calderon’s government, in joint statement from the marines, the armed forces and the interior ministry, said it would work to implement the court’s ruling while also strengthening military courts.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered Mexico to reform the military justice system last year based on a 1970s-era case of left-wing activist Rosendo Radilla, detained by the army in southern Mexico and never heard from again.

(Reporting by Miguel Angel Gutierrez and Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

NEWS UPDATE:

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) — At least 18 people including a preteen boy have died in a single day of cartel violence in Ciudad Juarez.

Attorney General’s office spokesman Arturo Sandoval said Tuesday was one of the bloodiest days of 2011 in the border town. At least 20 homicides were recorded there on Feb. 18.

He said among the 18 killings were three hospital parking attendants shot to death at midday by unidentified gunmen.

Later, gunmen opened fire on a youth soccer game, killing four people and leaving four others in critical condition.

Authorities also say a 12-year-old boy was followed into a restaurant by assailants and killed.

It is not immediately clear if the killings are related. Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by violence between warring cartels.

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