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Mexico law office: 4 soldiers killed unarmed men


MEXICO CITY — According to the Human Rights Organization of Mexico, four soldiers opened fire without justification on a pickup truck in the border town of Nuevo Laredo last month, killing five men and wounding another.

The case of the February 26 shooting has been referred to civilian and military prosecutors. The National Human Rights Commission normally steps back when cases come up for prosecution.

But as the charges have not yet been announced, the commission took the unusual step late Tuesday and released a report saying that four of the 21 soldiers on patrol opened fire that morning.

The report alleged that those four soldiers used excessive force and violated the men’s rights.

According to the report, the soldiers tracked the pickup in the early hours of the morning based on only “suspicion” and did not follow proper procedure in engaging the vehicle.

“Without giving verbal orders (to stop), one soldier opened fire on the back of the private vehicle and three other soldiers did the same to support the former,” the report said.

Shortly after the shooting, the Defense Department confirmed soldiers opened fire on the truck, saying it was cooperating with civilian prosecutors who were investigating the deaths.

The department said the soldiers heard gunshots and approached a pickup truck in the early hours with no license plates and no lights.

“On seeing the army troops, they (the occupiers) accelerated brusquely and evasively,” the statement said.

The soldiers said the speeding pickup then crashed into a parked vehicle. Soldiers said that when they heard the crash, they opened fire. The military did not say whether they thought the blast was a gunshot.

There was no indication in the crime scene reports that any weapons were found in the vehicle after the shootings, and the Human Rights Commission said there was no evidence of shots being fired at the army patrol.

The commission recommended that the case be pursued and that reparations be made to the families of the victims.

Nuevo Laredo is dominated by the violent Northeast Drug Cartel, an offshoot of the old Zetas Cartel. Soldiers and Marines have regularly come under fire from heavily armed cartel gunmen in Nuevo Laredo.

The city has also been the scene of human rights abuses by the military in the past.

In 2021, the Mexican Navy turned over 30 Marines to civilian prosecutors to face trial in the cases of people who disappeared during anti-crime operations in Nuevo Laredo in 2014. Marines were charged with rounding up suspected suspects, some of whom went unreported heard . In 2018, dozens of people disappeared in Nuevo Laredo.

Under Mexican law, military tribunals can hear only cases involving violations of the military code; . Crimes against civilians should be tried in civilian courts.

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