MEXICO CITY — The federal attorney general's office Tuesday charged 11 Jalisco state policemen with abuse of authority in the detention and alleged beating of a U.S. narcotics agent in Guadalajara two weeks ago.
U.S. officials say that Jalisco state police in Guadalajara interrogated, beat and applied electric shocks to Victor Cortez Jr., a Drug Enforcement Administration agent, on Aug 13. The attorney general's action came in the wake of a formal U.S. note of protest to Mexican officials over the incident.
A statement released by the attorney general here made no mention of torture. According to the announcement, the office ordered prosecutors in Guadalajara, the state capital, to open "penal action . . . for the presumed commission of unlawful injury and of abuse of authority."
Abuse and Torture
"You can abuse someone but that doesn't necessarily mean it's torture," said Felipe Flores, a spokes man for the office.
The 11 accused policemen are under arrest, he said.
In Washington, Justice Department spokesman Pat Korten said: "This indicates to some of those in this country who may have been doubters that Atty. Gen. (Sergio Garcia) Ramirez is serious about dealing with these problems. It certainly indicates his willingness to take action."
No charges were made in connection with the detention of Antonio Garate Bustamante, a Mexican informant working for the DEA who was picked up along with Cortez. Both men went to the United States after their release to DEA agents.
The government news agency Notimex said Cortez and Garate Bustamante were detained by Mexican police after they failed to produce identification and weapons were found in their car.
The Cortez incident aggravated already strained relations between the United States and Mexico over the issue of drug trafficking.
The allegations that police abused Cortez surfaced while Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid was in Washington for a summit meeting with President Reagan. During the meeting, both presidents renewed promises to jointly fight drug smuggling.
After De la Madrid left Washington, U.S. officials openly used the word \o7 torture \f7 to describe the treatment of Cortez and sent a protest note to the Mexican government.
Tuesday's announcement by the Mexican attorney general's office said that four witnesses gave testimony that "permits one to suppose the probable commission" of police abuse.
The witnesses were detainees being held in the Guadalajara jail for unspecified crimes.
In addition, the attorney general is relying on a Red Cross report made in Guadalajara of injuries to Cortez to back up its charges against the 11 policemen. A Red Cross doctor reportedly treated Cortez after his release.
"(The injuries) are classified in the group that do not put one's life in danger and heal in less than 15 days," according to the announcement.
Western diplomats, who requested anonymity said the wording may signify that the charges will carry a light sentence.
"You have to think what is possible under Mexican law, not what might be desirable," said a Western diplomat. "We may be disappointed, but that is the nature of the beast."