The Mexican army revealed Tuesday that two of its soldiers face military charges after a horrifying video emerged of them torturing a woman.
The attorney general’s office launched a torture investigation in the wake of the video, which shows a captain and a female soldier helping a police officer torture a Mexican woman, allegedly in search of Mexican cartels. The offending soldiers have been charged with disobeying orders.
The shocking footage shows the female soldier placing the barrel of her rifle on the quaking woman’s head as she squats on the dirt floor.
The accompanying police officer then puts her head inside a plastic bag and tightens it while a soldier asks her of the whereabouts of a person named “Maria.” As the woman repeatedly denies any knowledge of the mysterious person, the culprits threaten her with more bodily torture. After a while, when the woman wouldn’t reveal any information, the three officers left her lying half-conscious on the cold floor.
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The Defense Department says the horrific incident occurred Feb. 4, 2015, in Ajuchitlan, a small town in southern Guerrero, Mexico and the civilian prosecutors have been advised of the incident. Under Mexican law, civilian prosecutors are supposed to investigate a soldier’s abuse against civilians, but army officials can also face charges in military tribunals simultaneously.
"The military justice system tends to be very strict in such cases, because (the soldiers in the video) are casting the institution in a bad light,” said Raul Benitz, a security specialist who is a political science professor at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. "There are abuses by soldiers, but there often isn't this kind of solid proof. They are not accustomed to acknowledging such cases, unless the evidence is overwhelming.”
The video shows torture remains one of the chief tactics for authorities to coerce confessions from suspects. Both police and army officials have been under fire since 2006, when they were first deployed to fight drug gangs in Mexico.