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Former Mexican President Faces Arrest for Genocide


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MEXICO CITY – A special prosecutor has requested the arrest of former President Luis Echeverria and other senior officials accused of genocide for allegedly ordering the killing of student demonstrators in 1971, Echeverria's attorney said Friday.

It is the first time a former Mexican president has faced criminal charges, and the case threatens to create a political confrontation between President Vicente Fox and Echeverria's Institutional Revolutionary Party, still the largest force in Congress.

Special Prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo carried nine heavy cardboard boxes of evidence into a courthouse at Mexico City's Northern Prison late Thursday and turned them over to personnel there. However, he refused to comment on the case.

Mexican laws limit what prosecutors can say before a judge's ruling.

"I know that he asked for arrest orders against my clients for genocide," attorney Juan Velazquez told The Associated Press.

He represents Echeverria, former Interior Secretary Mario Moya and former Attorney General Julio Sanchez Vargas.

In the June 10, 1971, attack, a government-organized group attacked student protesters, and 11 people died.

The judge handling the case has 24 hours to rule on Carrillo's request. Velazquez said it was unclear when the judge received the case.

Fox promised while campaigning for the presidency to lift the veil of secrecy and impunity over so-called "past crimes," massacres of student demonstrators in 1968 and 1971 and the "dirty war" by government forces against radical guerrillas and their supporters in the 1960s and 1970s.

But the effort has angered powerful figures in the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which ruled Mexico from 1929 until Fox's election in 2000.

The party, which has the largest bloc in Congress, recently threatened to restrict cooperation with Fox if Echeverria was charged. Party leaders said Friday they were helping organize a team of top lawyers to defend those charged.

Velazquez argued that an arrest warrant would be improper.

"There was no genocide ... in the sense of a state policy of exterminating a population," he said.

Velazquez said the incident was "a confrontation."

"There is not a single proof of criminal responsibility by any of those I defend," he said.

Velazquez noted that under Mexican law in effect at the time, the crime of genocide had a 30-year statute of limitations that he said expired on June 10, 2001.

Though Mexico endorsed an international treaty in 2002 eliminating that statute of limitations, Velazquez argued it could not be applied retroactively. Carrillo earlier said the statute-of-limitation issue was for the courts to decide.

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Why don't we drop a bunch of MOABs on that shithole and then suck all the oil out of it?

 

Not that I am condoning genocide or anything. :P

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