12 Tijuana Police Released After 80 Days, Allege Torture
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Mexican federal authorities have released twelve Tijuana Municipal policemen who had been suspected of having ties to organized crime.
The 12 Tijuana municipal policemen were detained in September.
Under Mexican law they could be held for investigation for 80 days.
A federal official in Tijuana says authorities found no evidence the officers are associated with drug cartels or organized crime. But, he says the officers could be re-arrested if new information surfaces.
The detention of the Tijuana officers comes as Tijuana’s police chief Julian Leyzaola is trying to rid his force of corruption. He rounded up another group of Tijuana police officers last March to question them about their illicit ties. The 25 officers are in prison in Nayarit while legal action against them continues.
All of the officers claim they were tortured during their interrogation. Some say their eyes were taped shut and electric shocks were applied to their genitals. Others say they were beaten and deprived of water and food.
Luis Castellanos Hernandez, who’s brother Ricardo Castellanos was one of the officers released earlier this week, says his brother claims soldiers shocked him back to consciousness after abusing him. Castellanos-Hernandez says they tortured his brother to try to get him to sign a declaration he was not allowed to read.
Tijuana's Police Chief Leyzaola says the torture claims are unfounded.
Castellanos and other family members say they’ve been threatened if they speak out about the alleged abuse.
Blanca Messina, the daughter of one of the officers detained last March who is still being held, says she’s been trying to keep a low profile for the last few days to avoid any retaliation.
She says the dozen officers who were released want to talk openly about their experience but are afraid.
A Mexico City based human rights group that has taken up the cases has counseled the police families to try to stay home and not to go out alone, to minimize risk of reprisal.
The Inter-American Human Rights Commission is investigating these cases and similar allegations by four civilians and two Ministerial Police officers from Mexicali.
Amnesty International says Mexican authorities have failed to fully investigate the claims.
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