Mexican Soldiers Held for Torture, Killing of Civilians

Mexico City, Jul 7 (IANS/EFE): Two non-commissioned army officers have been arrested and handed over to a military judge on charges that they murdered a civilian and tortured a second, the Mexican defense secretariat said.

The two non-commissioned officers were turned over to a military court Monday following an investigation by the Military Prosecutor's Office into the disappearance of Jethro Ramses Sanchez, the secretariat said.

The two soldiers, who were not identified, are accused of killing Sanchez Santana and torturing Horacio Hernandez Demesa.

Sanchez Santana's family has been contacted so they "can be provided with the necessary support and kept informed of the development of the investigation", the secretariat said.

Sanchez Santana disappeared May 1 in Cuernavaca, the capital of the central state of Morelos, after being detained by municipal police and handed over to army troops.

"Conduct on the margins of the law and contrary to the commitment to duty that should govern military behaviour will not be tolerated," the defense secretariat said.

"The Mexican army works with full transparency and when one of its members does not conduct himself in accordance with the law, his actions will be investigated and, if necessary, punished to the full extent of the law," the secretariat said.

Mexico's armed forces have played a critical role in the war on drugs that President Felipe Calderon launched after taking office in December 2006.

Human rights groups have reported a rise in violations committed by soldiers engaged in the war against Mexico's drug cartels.


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Title: Mexican Soldiers Held for Torture, Killing of Civilians

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