Some 22 suspected gang members were “arbitrarily executed” in a confrontation with police in western Mexico past year, Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said on Thursday, in the latest incident of rights abuses by security forces.
Police initially said 42 alleged cartel members were killed during the bloody gunfight last May in the western state of Michoacan, but now the National Human Rights Commission says at least half of those deaths were “grave human-rights violations attributable to public servants of the federal police”. The government said those who died were suspected drug cartel members who were hiding in the ranch.
Mexican state police stand guard in May 2015 near a shootout between authorities and suspected criminals in Michoacan.
The government refused to release the post-mortem reports for the victims.
Police used a Black Hawk helicoper for the operation, firing a reported 4,000 rounds into the ranch. Police are said to have burned two bodies and tortured two suspects.
Previously, the government said there had been no human rights violations during the raid on the ranch. In a press conference, Mexico’s National Security Commissioner Renato Sales said that he did not accept that police carried out the alleged executions, but rather “acted in legitimate defense” against “imminent and unlawful aggression”. An officer was shot and police called for backup, police said. One policeman was killed in the battle. Another 22 were arbitrarily executed, while the circumstances of the other 15 deaths are still unclear, according to the commission. Fifty-four more federal police officers arrived along with a helicopter. The helicopter was also hit by gunfire, the report said.
A helicopter killed at least five people, the report says. One victim was hit by a bullet that entered around his left pectoral muscle and exited his groin, but there were no bloodstains on the jeans he was found wearing, the commission said.
But, the commission established that 40 people were shot, one died in a fire and another was run over.
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