Soldiers in front of the Nuevo Laredo Prosecutor's Office (Tamaulipas) on February 28. Mónica González Islas
The National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) has concluded that the soldiers who killed five boys in Nuevo Laredo at the end of February, and left another badly injured, made "excessive use of force through the illegitimate use of weapons of fire".
The ombudsman's office, in the hands of Rosario Piedra Ibarra, has avoided inquiring into the possible responsibility of the military commanders on whom the accused soldiers depended.
In his report, released this Tuesday night, the agency does not even consider the role of the Defense Secretariat (Sedena) and the State security strategy itself in what happened.
The commission has been quick.
In less than a month, its researchers have prepared a document that includes a good part of the information made public these weeks, as well as new data, unknown until now.
This is the case of the statements of the four soldiers accused of perpetrating the massacre, rendered before officials of the Federal Prosecutor's Office, shortly after what happened.
According to their stories, one of them started shooting and the others followed him, without any aggression from the young men, who were returning from spending the night in a disco.
The military fired a total of 117 times.
"The actions carried out by the elements of the Sedena," the report says, "did not comply with the provisions of the Manual on the Use of Force, of common application to the Three Armed Forces, nor with the provisions of international standards. .
The Secretariat is required, in compliance with applicable national and international regulations, to examine its training programs and operating procedures”, he adds.
The last sentence includes the closest thing to a criticism that the CNDH makes of the agency.
In the rest of the 54 pages of the report, the ombudsman's office charges against the four accused soldiers, four cavalry corporals who fired without the captain in command of the convoy, made up of a total of four trucks and 21 troops, giving the order. .
The status of the military is unknown at this time.
This newspaper reported on Monday that they are being held in the military prison in Mexico City.
The CNDH points out that the FGR has requested that an "indictment" be filed against the four, although it does not clarify for what crime.
"AR1, AR2, AR3 and AR4", says the report, in reference to the indicated soldiers, "not only left the victims and their families defenseless, but also affects society as a whole, because with their conduct they violated the right to legal certainty, to personal integrity and security, and to life,” he adds.
"This National Commission considers that this recommendation constitutes an opportunity for the Sedena to carry out actions and join a culture of peace, legality and respect for human rights," he concludes.
Raymundo Ramos, director of the Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee, an organization that has followed the case from the beginning, has criticized the work of the CNDH.
"It's very bad," Ramos said.
“It is a report that does not question the chain of command and that, furthermore, omits the cruel and degrading treatment suffered by Luis Gerardo and Alejandro,” he points out, referring to the two survivors.
In their statements, which EL PAÍS has published these weeks, the two affirm that the military shot Luis Gerardo, after the first burst, when he was asking for help, badly wounded, on the ground.
AR3 and the first shots
The main novelties of the commission's report lie in the accounts of the mentioned soldiers.
This newspaper advanced a week and a half ago the content of the Approved Police Report, the narrative of the events that the officer in command of the convoy, Captain Elio N., had presented to the Attorney General of the Republic (FGR). Compared with the testimonies of his men, there are details that do not quite coincide.
In his report, the captain recounted that on the day of the events, early Sunday morning, February 26, he and his men were patrolling through Nuevo Laredo when they heard gunshots.
He says that they went to the place where the shots were coming from and then they found a white van, the van the boys were in, seven in all.
The officer adds that the truck sped up when it saw them and that they followed them.
He says that, shortly after, the boys' vehicle collided with another that was parked on the street, a detail that the two survivors deny: it was the military who hit them from behind.
Be that as it may, the captain says that he heard shots again and that right after he realized that some of his elements began to shoot.
Immediately, he says, he ordered a ceasefire via radio.
Later, she got out of the vehicle and asked who had shot.
Four of his elements raised their hands.
Of the four, three were in the same truck.
These four would be the four indicated by the CNDH and to which the FGR would have asked to be charged.
In their accounts, collected by the CNDH, they say that they did indeed hear shots at the end, but none suggests that the last shots they heard came from the boys' truck.
Some speak of strange movements inside their vehicle, once stopped, after the crash.
They also say that the boys turned off the interior light.
AR3 was the shooter of the truck where the captain was.
He was in charge of the machine gun installed in a turret at the rear.
According to his own account and that of the others, he was the first to fire.
The other three followed him.
Of them, two were with him in the back of the same truck, in the punt.
The fourth was apparently in charge of the machine gun from the turret of another of the military vehicles.
AR3 says that when the boys' truck saw them, it sped up, according to him, to flee.
"They were followed up and about fifty meters away their vehicle collided with another that was parked on Méndez street, thus continuing its march, but accelerating without stopping," says AR3.
“When it crashed […] an explosion was heard nearby.
Likewise, derived from said impact [referring to the crash], I observed that the truck leaned on its right without stopping the march and, approximately [at] about twenty meters, they turned off the interior lights”, he continues.
“I want to say that at the moment the truck collided and an explosion was heard, I loaded my collective weapon [the machine gun].
I mean that I only prepared it, that is, I cut the cartridge.
When the van leaned to his right, as I mentioned, they turned off the interior lights”, continues AR3.
“[Then] a silhouette was seen with an action towards the official unit in which I was on board, at that moment I proceeded to make warning shots at the rear of the truck, without any crew member getting out of it.
At that moment I fired three shots,” he says.
“The truck continued its march and, as we passed it, my range of fire changed to the right side.
I fired my gun continuously again, shooting thirty-nine cartridges in the direction of the truck, which stopped its march about ten meters further on ”, ditch.
His companions followed.
None fired more times than him, but they all did it repeatedly.
AR2 was going with AR3 in the punt.
He recounts: “The truck collided with another vehicle that was parked and with the same blow the tire edged it to the right, hearing more shots from the front.
When we got closer to the pair, I saw strange movements.
The van turned off its interior lights and the exterior ones as well, and I saw movements of people.
When I noticed that one of my colleagues, the shooter, started shooting, we supported him.
I fired 30 shots with my charge gun."
In the same way, AR4, who was in the punt with the other two, says: “The civilian's truck had a flat tire and could no longer move, so our vehicle was paired with it.
At that moment, the crew members turned off the interior light.
[Then] the shooter [AR3] began to shoot at the crew members of the truck.
When I saw that action, I supported with firearm shots, making a total of approximately 30 shots, since I observed that the doors on the right side began to open and two male people who were traveling in it began to run ”.
AR1 is the fourth implicated, who supposedly controlled the turret of a second truck in the military convoy.
His account is the least rich in detail.
"I heard firearm detonations and realized that a vehicle was coming in front of us (...) Immediately afterwards I heard more firearm detonations (...) My partner who was in the other shooter's truck, AR3, made shots against the white truck and when I saw that he was shooting, I also proceeded to support by firing my weapon, at an approximate distance of 15 meters and firing a total of 15 shots with my pistol (...) [Then] I observed that my fellow shooter in the first vehicle stopped shooting and therefore I also stopped shooting.”
EL PAÍS México
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