Mexico investigates alleged police massacre

21 Apr 2015 / 14:19 H.

    MEXICO CITY: Mexican prosecutors and the federal police's internal affairs are investigating allegations that officers gunned down 16 unarmed civilians in January, officials said Monday.
    Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong spoke a day after a media report concluded that federal police opened fire on people wielding nothing more than sticks on January 6 in Apatzingan, a city in the troubled western state of Michoacan.
    The report by journalist Laura Castellanos, published Sunday by the magazine Proceso and the news website Aristegui Noticias, contradicts official accounts that nine people died in the crossfire of a shootout between police and former rural militiamen.
    It is the latest allegation of abuse to hit Mexico's security forces.
    "We hope that the attorney general's office will draw its own conclusions and make them known," Osorio Chong told reporters, adding that the federal police was cooperating and conducting an internal investigation.
    "We are waiting for the results of the investigation and, with that, we will know what really happened that day in Apatzingan," he said after attending the signing of an accord on protecting human rights.
    The National Security Commission said over the weekend that it had given prosecutors a video it received anonymously that appears to show "an excessive use of force or abuse of authority by federal police officers" in Apatzingan.
    Castellanos's report, based on 39 anonymous witness accounts, videos and audio recordings, said officers opened fire in two incidents.
    The first shooting took place as civilians protested the disbanding of a rural militia in front of Apatzingan city hall and the second came six hours later when officers fired at a dozen civilian vehicles chasing a police convoy.
    The violence erupted as the authorities planned to dissolve Michoacan's "rural force," a unit comprised of vigilantes who were deputized after they rose up against the Knights Templar drug cartel.
    President Enrique Pena Nieto's administration is already under fire over an alleged army massacre of gang suspects last year and the presumed slaughter of 43 students at the hands of a municipal police-backed drug cartel. – AFP

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