Armed Gunmen Force Mexican Attorney’s Video Confession: Former Attorney General Implicated

Armed Gunmen Force Mexican Attorney’s Video Confession: Former Attorney General Implicated

By Erica Laster                                                                                                                   Impunity Watch Reporter, North America

CHIHUAHUA, Mexico – Armed gunmen kidnapped Mexican Attorney Mario Gonzalez after storming his office last week.  Less than two days later, a video surfaced in which his attackers, holding Gonzalez at gunpoint, force him to confess to a myriad of crimes, including supporting drug cartels, aiding in kidnappings and assisting the Juarez cartel in the murders of various politicians, journalists and attorneys

Mexican Attorney Held At Gunpoint: Forced to Confess Former Attorney Generals Ties To Drug Trafficking & High Profile Murders
Mexican Attorney Held At Gunpoint: Forced to Confess Former Attorney General’s Ties To Drug Trafficking & High Profile Murders

 Patricia Gonzalez, his sister and former attorney general, was also implicated in orchestrating many sensational murders linked to drug crimes.  Gonzalez stated that many “believe there are close ties between drug trafficking and government institutions.”  The video, she acknowledged, may only reinforce those beliefs.

As the video begins, armed gunmen in military uniforms level rifles at Mario Gonzalez’ head.  “”What group do you belong to?” “The group called La Linea or the Juarez Cartel.” “What is your job?” “I am the link to the prosecutor, my sister…”

In an interview with the Washington Post, Gonzalez indicated that she believes the off camera questioner to be “El Puma,” the leader of the Sinoa Cartel, a rival drug gang struggling for control in Mexico.  Gonzalez assumes he is a former police officer and on among many enemies she made while a prosecutor before retiring October 3, 2010.  “We fired 350 police and prosecutors.  I think there are clear elements that indicate that the state police are involved in my brother’s kidnapping.” 

Kidnapped attorney Gonzalez’s wife was contacted for a ransom of $500,000 shortly after the kidnapping.  However, officials inside of the investigation believe the ransom was an ill disguised attempt to thwart investigators from the real purpose of the kidnapping: destroying the reputation of prominent legal professionals.

While officials are continuing with the investigation, many cannot ignore Gonzale’s forced confessions to being complicit in the murder of the former chief of operations of Chihuahua and a veteran crime reporter for El Diario, Armando “Choco” Rodriguez in November of 2008.

Interior secretary Graciela Ortiz indicated that, ‘What’s important is that citizens can be sure the state will act objectively and impartially to apply the full weight of the law against anyone responsible for a crime, regardless if they are ex-officials or of the position that they held.”

For More Information Please Visit:

Daily Mail – Mexican drug gang video shows ex-politician’s kidnapped brother ‘confessing’ her crimes at gunpoint  27 October 2010

Washington Post Mexican Drug Cartel Forces Lawyer’s Video Confession – 30 October 2010

Justice In Mexico – Former State Attorney General Patricia Gonzalez Rodrigues accused of having ties to drug traffickers – 27 October 2010

Spain’s Civil War Crimes Come to Argentina’s Courts

By R. Renee Yaworsky
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

Hitler (L) and Franco (C) march during a 1935 meeting. (Photo courtesy of Life)
Hitler (L) and Franco (C) march during a 1940 meeting. (Photo courtesy of Life)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina—Argentina may become the forum used to prosecute cases involving murder, torture, and kidnapping stemming from Spain’s Civil War (1936-1939).  Argentina may be able to prosecute these war criminals who are currently protected by diplomatic immunity.

Judge Maria Servini of Argentina has been working toward litigating under universal jurisdiction because Spain’s judicial system has been restricted by amnesty laws from filing these cases.  Universal jurisdiction has been previously used in Spain by Judge Baltasar Garzon, who prosecuted the Chilean General Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

Judge Servini asked Spain whether its own courts would investigate tens of thousands of cases of “torture, assassination, forced disappearances and the stealing of children.”  Her inquiry came after human rights defenders in Spain took their case to Argentina because Spain’s courts were unavailable to them.

The issue remains whether Argentina’s courts can litigate under the doctrine of universal jurisdiction.  Under that doctrine, states can have jurisdiction over those whose crimes were committed outside their borders if the crimes were against all and so severe that differences between legal systems cannot reduce responsibility.

The plaintiffs will declare that Article 118 of Argentina’s Constitution supports universal jurisdiction.  The Article mentions a special law that can determine the venue to try crimes against the law of nations (ius gentium) that took place outside of the country’s borders.

US-based group Tamils Against Genocide stated that “Universal jurisdiction is a hard hurdle to cross, and progress of the above cases underscores that Argentinian laws support universal jurisdiction for egregious crimes.”

The three Spanish Civil War cases that have been filed in Argentina’s courts are the murders of Spanish citizens Severino Rivas, Elias Garcia Holgado, and Luis Garcia Holgado, and Argentine Vicente Garcia Holgado.  The cases could be expanded to include other murders and disappearances that Franco’s military committed between July 17, 1936 and June 15, 1977.  These dates represent the day before Franco’s revolution began against Spain’s government, and when Spain held its first elections after Franco’s death.

One lawyer working on these cases, Maximo Castex, told the Associated Press that because genocide and other human rights violations have been alleged, more cases involving Argentines whose relatives had been killed in Spain can be tacked on to the litigation.

For more information, please see:

Barcelona Reporter-War crimes Spain Argentine judge invokes universal justice to probe Spain’s Franco-era crimes-30 October 2010

TamilNet-Argentina: a possible forum to prosecute war criminals-29 October 2010

Casey Weekly Cranbourne-Judge may shed light on crimes of Franco-28 October 2010

Report Says Venezuela Most Corrupt Country In Western Hemisphere

By Patrick Vanderpool
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America

CARACAS, Venezuela – According to a report published by Transparency International, a global anti-corruption civil society organization, Venezuela is the most corrupt country in the Western Hemisphere, edging out Haiti for the top spot.

Transparency International publishes an annual Corruption Perceptions Index which measures the “unfairness of the public sector” of countries around the world.

In terms of the complete list, Venezuela was the 164th most corrupt country out of the 178 nations that were included.  The annual ranking measures the perceptions of public-sector corruption by aggregating 13 independent surveys.

The news for Venezuela comes on the heels of President Hugo Chavez’s most recent efforts to make Venezuela a completely Socialist country.  Recently, President Chavez announced that the government was taking over the local subsidiary of Owens-Illinois, a U.S.-based glass container manufacturer.  In recent history, Venezuela has nationalized key industries within the country, including the steel and oil industries.

Chavez’s rule as President has been marred with accusations of corrupt government action and human rights abuses.  In a recent election, the Chavez regime is accused of silencing independent media, intimidating voters, arresting dissidents, and gerrymandering electoral districts in order to stave off legitimate competition from other parties.

Under Chavez’s watch, crime and inflation have skyrocketed.  According to news reports, many Venezuelan citizens cannot gain access to the basic necessities that they need, such as food, unless they shop at a government-controlled market.  The country has also been stricken by water and electricity shortages, which have affected even the capital city.

The next Presidential election is set to be held in 2012 and many political analysts think that Venezuelan citizens are growing increasingly disenfranchised with the current political regime.  Although ousting Chavez will not be an easy task because he has essentially gained control of Venezuelan commerce and media, analysts think that it could be likely for other political factions to unite against the embattled leader.

For more information, please see:

Miami Herald – Hemisphere Loser: Venezuela – 27 October 2010

El Universal – Venezuela is Considered One of the World’s Most Corrupt Countries – 26 October 2010

New America – Corrupt Venezuela Election Still a Blow to Regime – 3 October 2010

Amnesty International Urges Italy To Respect Rights of Possible Asylum Seekers

By Christina Berger
Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

CATANIA, Italy — Amnesty International called on Italian authorities on Friday to investigate the forcible return of 68 people to Egypt after they were intercepted near the coast of Sicily. Amnesty International is questioning whether the migrants were given the opportunity to apply for asylum and international protection.

Italian coast guard boats patrolling waters near Catania, Sicily intercepted the Egyptian fishing vessel on Tuesday. The boat was carrying about 130 migrants, who identified themselves as Palestinians. The authorities arrested seven suspected human traffickers when they boarded the fishing vessel, and the other people were taken to a sports facility in Catania. They were detained for 24 hours in order to facilitate identification and return arrangements, the Italian authorities said.

On Wednesday, 68 of the migrants were put on a plane to Cairo, Egypt because Italian authorities claimed they were illegal immigrants from Egypt and not Palestinians. Amnesty International is questioning how identifications were made and protection needs assessed, and whether these migrants were given appropriate information and opportunity to seek asylum in accordance with international refugee and human rights laws.

“All people rescued at sea must be given the opportunity to seek asylum and to have their claims assessed in a fair and satisfactory asylum-determination procedure,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia. “There are concerns that in this case none of the individuals, included the 68 deported, was given such an opportunity.”

According to Amnesty International, organizations such as the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Organization for Migration, Save the Children, and the Italian Red Cross were repeatedly denied access to the migrants. This is believed to be the first time since 2005 that an official request from the UNHCR was denied in Italy.

For years, thousand of migrants from Africa attempted crossing the Mediterranean Sea to reach Italy, but that number has been drastically reduced since Italy and Libya made a deal in 2008 requiring migrants intercepted in international waters to be returned to Libya. Human rights groups argue that this deal violates the rights of asylum seekers. Amnesty International has broadly urged Italian authorities to stop mass summary expulsion of foreign nationals in order to conform with international laws and standards aimed at protecting the rights of asylum seekers.

For more information, please see:

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL — Italy Urged To Stop Mass Expulsions — 29 October 2010

AFP — 128 immigrants intercepted off Sicily in Egyptian fishing vessel –27 October 2010

DEUTSCHE PRESSE-AGENTUR — Italian coast guard intercepts 128 migrants — 26 October 2010