Mexico: Chiapas establishes special prosecutor for Acteal massacre

From El Universal, Dec. 29 via Chiapas95:

TUXTLA GUTIERREZ – The Chiapas state government said Wednesday it has created a special prosecutor’s office to investigate a 1997 massacre of 45 indigenous villagers.

It also announced an office to look into the killings of three journalists in the 1990s, which will call former Gov. Patrocinio Gonzalez Blanco to testify based on claims by some of the victims. relatives that he was involved in the killings, Attorney General Mariano Herran said.

On Dec. 22, 1997, paramilitaries with alleged ties to the government attacked a prayer meeting of Roman Catholic activists who sympathized with the Zapatista rebels in the hamlet of Acteal. The assailants killed 45 people, including children as young as 2 months old.

Twenty-four of the attackers were each sentenced to a little more than 36 years in prison, and 51 others still face trial. But activists say most of those arrested and tried are indigenous farmers, and that former state officials allegedly responsible for the killings have gone largely unpunished.

The killings may have been sparked by a dispute between two indigenous villages over land use, although activists say the massacre was part of a government campaign against the rebels who staged a brief armed uprising in Chiapas in 1994 to demand greater indigenous rights.

The case is being handled by federal prosecutors, who will be aided by the new state prosecutor’s office.

The federal government also has a special prosecutor’s office to investigate crimes against journalists, which have risen significantly in the last two years.

Since 2004, at least 13 journalists have been killed in Mexico, presumably as revenge for unfavorable reports on criminals, drug traffickers and corrupt government officials.

See our last posts on Mexico, Chiapas, the Acteal massacre and attacks on the press.