February 5, 2016 / 12:46 AM / 3 years ago

Mexican ombudsman accuses marines of torture, assault

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Troops from Mexico’s marines tortured four people and sexually assaulted three in the Gulf Coast state of Veracruz in 2012, an independent human rights commission said on Thursday.

Human rights groups have long alleged a record of murder, rape and torture by the military since it was deployed by former President Felipe Calderon to take on powerful drug gangs in late 2006.

But the marines are considered one of the least corrupt security forces in Mexico and have arrested cartel leaders like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, the notorious drug lord who was recaptured in January.

The National Commission for Human Rights, or CNDH, found that the marines in 2012 tortured four people, including through electric shock to the genitals and breasts, and sexually violated three people. The commission said six people had their rights violated, without specifying details about each person.

The torture “was with the intention of obtaining information or a confession for the crimes they were accused of,” CNDH said in a statement.

The marines said in a statement they accepted CNDH’s recommendations and were investigating.

For several years, the marines have controlled security in Veracruz, which has been hit by violence from drug gangs including the Zetas. CNDH said the highest volume of complaints filed against the marines were from that state.

CNDH, which has the power to look into cases but not prosecute them, called on Navy Secretary Vidal Soberon to address the case and investigate the marines involved.

The army has long denied any misconduct and resisted prosecutions. In a legal milestone, a Mexican judge last August found a soldier guilty of a disappearance of a civilian.

Reporting by Lizbeth Díaz and Anahí Rama; Writing by Anna Yukhananov; Editing by Peter Cooney

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