MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Fourteen soldiers have been sentenced to jail for firing on a family group in 2007, killing two women and three children, Mexico’s defense ministry said.
A commander received a jail term of 40 years, another officer was sentenced to 38 years and 12 soldiers will each serve 16 years jail, the ministry said late on Thursday.
President Felipe Calderon deployed tens of thousands of troops to the streets to take on powerful drug traffickers shortly after taking office in late 2006.
Violence has spiraled since then, with more than 44,000 people killed across Mexico, and human rights activists say that in some cases soldiers have overstepped their powers.
According to a claim filed with the national human rights commission, soldiers fired on a truck carrying eight passengers in the northwestern state of Sinaloa in June 2007.
Three children, aged six, three and one, were killed, the document said, along with two women whom local media identified as their mother and aunt. Three other people were wounded, including the children’s father.
The defense ministry said in a statement the deaths were a “regrettable error” and said less than 2 percent of total complaints made to the human rights commission had been referred to the military for further action.
Reporting by Krista Hughes