August 1, 2007 / 2:46 AM / 12 years ago

Amnesty urges Mexico to probe suspected abuses

(Adds Ruiz response)

By Paulina Valencia

OAXACA, Mexico, July 31 (Reuters) - Amnesty International urged the Mexican government on Tuesday to investigate suspected torture and abductions by state officials during months of protests in the city of Oaxaca last year.

Amnesty International Secretary General Irene Khan called for the probe during a visit to Oaxaca, saying Gov. Ulises Ruiz’s government appeared to be implicated.

After meeting with Khan, Ruiz said Amnesty was wrong and that the rights organization had not asked his government for its side of the story.

"She’s not well informed ... the information is biased," Ruiz told reporters. "We let them know that the authors of Amnesty International’s report are even advisers to (the protesters)."

The colonial city turned into a battleground for months last year between state police and leftist protesters calling for the resignation of Ruiz, who they accuse of corruption and bad government.

Amnesty said state officials may have tortured prisoners and committed other human rights abuses that should be investigated by outside authorities.

"For the governor not to read our report seriously ... is simply an excuse," Khan said after meeting with Ruiz. "Amnesty International’s reputation stands on itself."

More than 20 people died in last year’s disturbances and protesters say more than a dozen of the dead were activists killed by police.

The protests died down in December after federal riot police arrested several protest leaders. Riots flared up again in July when protesters burned buses and fought police during an indigenous cultural festival.

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