August 18, 2015 / 10:04 PM / in 3 years

Mexico marks legal milestone as soldier jailed for disappearance

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A Mexican judge on Tuesday convicted and ordered a soldier jailed in connection with the disappearance of a civilian in a northern border state, a legal milestone in a country torn by an almost decade-old war between security forces and drug gangs.

The unidentified soldier was given a sentence of 31 years for the kidnapping of the victim in May 2012 in the state of Nuevo Leon, according to a statement from the federal court system. The victim, also not identified, has not been located.

It was the first case in which a soldier was found guilty of the disappearance of a civilian.

A series of Supreme Court decisions since 2011 paved the way for civilian trials of military personnel, and lawmakers passed a law making the “forced disappearance,” or kidnapping by members of state security forces, a crime.

Mexico’s military has faced widespread accusations of human rights abuses including carrying out extrajudicial executions, torture and rape since former President Felipe Calderon ordered the armed forces to fight drug gangs in late 2006.

Last month, a judge put on trial four soldiers accused of forced disappearance and homicide in the case of seven murdered farmers in the northern state of Zacatecas.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Editing by Paul Simao

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