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24 military officers investigated for civilian killings

Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas — The Attorney General’s Office of Military Justice says 24 officers are under investigation for their alleged responsibility in the use of lethal force during a confrontation between the military and armed men.

The confrontation took place July 3 in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas when military personnel said their units were attacked by armed people and that they only repelled the aggression, which resulted in the death of 12 subjects.

However, a video published by El Universal (news media) contradicts the military’s version of events, showing how after the attack, military personnel chased a pickup truck. Upon catching up with the truck, military personnel opened fire, silencing the vehicle. On the video, one of the uniformed military men sees a survivor in the bed of the truck and orders him killed. Gunshots are heard on the video.

At least three of the deceased from the pickup were civilians who had been abducted by a criminal group. The surviving person ordered killed by the military was a civilian.

In a press conference Thursday, the Secretary of National Defense, Luis Cresencio Sandoval, said that so far, the investigation is being carried out by the Fiscalía General de Justicia Militar, but the Attorney General’s Office of the state could participate because civilians were involved in the incident.

During the conference which was headed by President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, he said “As for the investigation that is being carried out, the Office of the Attorney General of Military Justice, from the date this event took place in Nuevo Laredo, initiated an investigation. With what resulted from the video that came to light a few days ago, the Attorney General sent personnel from the Ministerial Military Police to continue with investigations that will focus on what is observed in the video.”

The investigation came after the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights requested Mexican authorities investigate the use of lethal force. The FGR case contains complaints against Sedena for the culpable homicide of the three kidnapped youths who were seen in the bed of the truck in the video released Monday.