Mexico: Echeverria “genocide” trial to proceed

From AP, Nov. 29:

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican court reinstated an arrest warrant for former President Luis Echeverria on Wednesday, just four months after a federal judge dismissed the same charges of genocide in a 1968 student massacre.

It was unclear whether police would immediately try to serve the warrant for Echeverria, 84, who likely would face house arrest because of his age.

Echeverria’s attorney, Juan Velasquez, confirmed the arrest warrant had been reinstated on an appeal by prosecutors.

The court accepted prosecutors’ arguments that Echeverria was protected from prosecution until he left office Dec. 1, 1976, and that the 30-year statute of limitations should be calculated from that date.

Velasquez is appealing.

Echeverria, who was president of Mexico from 1970 to 1976, was the country’s interior secretary Oct. 2, 1968, when soldiers opened fire on a student pro-democracy demonstration in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco Plaza just before the capital hosted the Summer Olympics. Official reports said 25 people were killed, but rights activists say as many as 350 may have died.

Prosecutors have had little success in trying Echeverria or other top officials for killings and disappearances under a government campaign against leftists in the 1960s and ’70s.

Echeverria was placed under house arrest in Mexico City in June — the first time a warrant has been served against a former Mexican president.

But the case was dismissed in July after a judge ruled the statute of limitations had expired.

We have noted the historical irony that this reckoning with the “dirty war” of the ’60s and ’70s is happening just as Mexico is in a new crisis over human rights, and calls are being raised for genocide charges against Gov. Ulises Ruiz of Oaxaca.

See our last posts on Mexico and the Oaxaca struggle, the human rights crisis and the “Echeverria case.”