MEXICO CITY (AP) — A U.N. special rapporteur for human rights called Monday for the Mexican government to conduct a thorough probe of an army killing of 22 suspected gang members as a possible case of "summary executions."
Christof Heyns, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, applauded the detention of seven soldiers and an officer last week in the June 30 incident in San Pedro Limon in southern rural Mexico.
The army initially reported that the 22 died in a fierce shootout with soldiers. But The Associated Press reported no evidence of a shootout at the scene, and bullet holes and blood stains indicated some were shot against a wall a close range. A witness later told the AP that 21 were killed after they had surrendered.
Heyns urged that the investigation be swift and that the three surviving witnesses be protected.
"All loss of life resulting from the excessive use of force without strict compliance with the principles of necessity and proportionality is an arbitrary deprivation of life and therefore illegal," he said in a statement. "The detention of eight soldiers suspected of participating in the events is a step in the right direction."
The soldiers were detained under the military justice system. In addition to that proceeding, the Mexican attorney general's office and the National Commission on Human Rights also are conducting investigations into the incident.