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Incident between 21 October 2008 and March 2009 Download as CSV Print this page

Country: Mexico

Violation types: Enforced disappearance unlawful killing

Perpetrator classifications: Militar

Location


This incident took place in Mexico

Description


According to Amnesty International: "On 21 October 2008, 31 year-old Saúl Becerra Reyes and five other men were arrested by soldiers in a car-wash near the home he shared with Brenda Patricia Balderas and their two children in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. Witnesses watched uniformed soldiers detain the six men and seize three vehicles, one of which belonged to Saúl Becerra. Over the next five days, Brenda Patricia Balderas, went to the PGR, military barracks and municipal police stations looking for Saúl Becerra. All the officials denied knowledge of the detentions or the men’s whereabouts. After being tortured and held illegally for five days by the military at the barracks of 20th Motorized Cavalry Regiment, five of the detainees were transferred on 26 October to PGR detention and charged with drug and firearm offences. Saúl Becerra was not transferred. The three vehicles confiscated by the military on 21 October were also handed over to the PGR, including Saúl Becerra’s. The military made no reference to Saúl Becerra Reyes, despite the fact that one of the cars belonged to him. On 27 October Brenda Patricia Balderas visited the detainees and saw that the five showed clear signs of bruising on their bodies. According to one of the detainees, José Hernández (name changed), all six men had been blindfolded and tortured, including repeated beatings and threats, over the five days in the military base. He had spoken to Saúl Becerra, who told him he had been badly beaten. He only realized Saúl Becerra was not with the five men when their blindfolds were removed shortly before being transferred to PGR detention. On 27 October Brenda Balderas tried to file a complaint for kidnapping and illegal detention against the military with the PGR in Ciudad Juárez, however, PGR officials would not register her complaint (reportedly refusing to provide confirmation of her complaint). Brenda Balderas also filed complaints with the Chihuahua CEDH and the CNDH. At the time of writing and over a year later, the CNDH had not concluded its investigation or informed Brenda Balderas of progress on the case. On 6 November, Brenda Patricia Balderas filed a habeas corpus petition (amparo) with a federal court. On the same day, a federal court official went to PGR premises and the headquarters of 20th Motorized Cavalry Regiment to establish Saúl Becerra’s whereabouts, to no avail. The court also ordered the inspection of state and municipal police detention centres. Over the next month, there were similar unsuccessful inspections of PGR and military premises and detention centres. In December, Brenda Patricia Balderas requested that the federal court obtain testimony from José Hernández to demonstrate that Saúl Becerra had been in the custody of the military. On 2 January 2009 the federal judge finally agreed to Brenda Balderas’ request and José Hernández’s testimony was attached to the amparo case file. A further request for information on the case to the commander of the military in Ciudad Juárez was not successful. The court took no further action to establish Saúl Becerra’s whereabouts. At the beginning of March 2009 Saúl Becerra’s body was found on the road between Nuevo Casas Grande and Ciudad Juárez. The one page death certificate issued by local authorities states that he died on 22 October 2008 (one day after his detention) of a cerebral haemorrhage from head trauma (Hemoragia Cerebral 1 hora (sic) ** Traumatismo Craneo Encefalico). No further autopsy was carried out. When Brenda Balderas informed the federal court that Saúl Becerra was dead, the judge closed the amparo proceedings and passed the case to the homicide unit of the Chihuahua PGJE. An investigation was opened but no steps have been taken by the PGJE to determine the involvement of the military in Saúl Becerra’s disappearance and death.