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Officers Charged in Mexico's 'Dirty War'

Latin America: The three were arraigned in connection with the deaths of 143 leftists.

September 28, 2002|From Associated Press

MEXICO CITY — A military court charged three Mexican army officers this week with homicide in the killings of 143 leftist activists and revolutionaries, marking the first prosecution of soldiers for crimes committed during the "dirty war" of the 1970s.

Military Atty. Gen. Jaime Lopez Portillo said Friday that Brig. Gen. Mario Arturo Acosta Chaparro, Division Gen. Francisco Quiroz Hermosillo and retired Maj. Francisco Barquin were charged after relatives and witnesses said the leftists were last seen in the custody of soldiers decades ago.

The prosecution of Acosta Chaparro and Quiroz Hermosillo, both of whom are already in prison and on trial on charges of aiding drug traffickers, could mark an important step in President Vicente Fox's pledge to investigate and punish crimes of the past.

The court's decision constituted a rare admission by the armed forces that evidence exists that they committed human rights violations while fighting small, violent leftist groups in the Pacific coast state of Guerrero in the 1970s and 1980s.

The three men charged could face sentences of 20 to 40 years if convicted in courts-martial.

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