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Two army captains sentenced to 30 years for murder of fellow female soldier

Osumacinta, Chiapas — Two army captains have been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of a fellow soldier. The two men were each handed down a 30-year prison term for the death of a 28-year-old female soldier.

According to the Chiapas Prosecutor’s Office, the pair were read their sentences on December 24, after having been found guilty of her murder. Both were charged with femicide.

In April of 2019, the body of soldier Brenda Matuz was found floating near the pier of the Chicoasén dam in the municipality of Osumacinta. The victim reportedly left the barracks to enjoy a day off in the company of other soldiers, however, she did not return.

In a statement, the Chiapas Attorney General’s Office identified the defendants as José Antonio “N” and Agustín “N”, omitting their surnames in accordance with established practice in Mexico. A spokesman for the prosecution said the two men were army captains.

Convictions against soldiers are rare in Mexico, where the armed forces are considered a pillar of stability. “It is very unusual for the military to be judged on human rights issues,” said Raúl Benítez, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “And even less so for femicide.”

The military has taken on more responsibilities under López Obrador since he took office in December 2018, when he vowed to pacify Mexico after years of escalating violence.

Critics argue that the military has been shielded from facing justice for human rights abuses, particularly those committed since former President Felipe Calderón sent the armed forces to crack down on Mexico’s powerful drug gangs 15 years ago, however, the Mexican government denies this and says it is committed to holding all criminals accountable.