Mexico's president to pardon indigenous teacher under new law

MEXICO CITY Wed Oct 30, 2013 12:29am EDT

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during a welcome ceremony for Ireland's President Michael D. Higgins at the National Palace in Mexico City October 21, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto speaks during a welcome ceremony for Ireland's President Michael D. Higgins at the National Palace in Mexico City October 21, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Edgard Garrido

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said on Tuesday that an indigenous teacher imprisoned for the slayings of seven policemen would be the first person he would pardon under a new law widening the scope of executive reprieves.

Alberto Patishtan was arrested in 2000 for the murder of the policemen, who were killed in an ambush in Chiapas state. He was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 60 years in prison, but denies committing the crime. Human rights groups say he was imprisoned on trumped-up charges.

Pena Nieto said via his Twitter account that he would pardon Patishtan on Thursday, as soon as the new law takes effect. The lower house of Congress approved the law expanding the reach of presidential pardons earlier on Tuesday to encompass prisoners whose human rights have been violated.

Few crimes in Mexico are successfully investigated and prosecuted, while police are frequently accused of manufacturing evidence or extracting confessions through torture in order to gain convictions.

(Reporting by Michael O'Boyle and Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Simon Gardner and Paul Simao)

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