Police admit Mexico massacre role

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The Independent Online
It took a Mexican police chief to confirm what everybody knew. Police turned a blind eye in the state of Chiapas last month while gunmen supporting President Ernesto Zedillo's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) massacred 45 Indian peasants.

In a new blow to Mr Zedillo and the party, Chiapas police commander Felipe Vazquez was charged with helping arm the gunmen with automatic rifles for the attack on sympathisers of the anti-government Zapatista guerrilla group, most of them women and children. He said he had been following orders from unnamed superiors.

Mr Zedillo also came under heavy criticism yesterday after Chiapas state police opened fire on townspeople protesting against the pre-Christmas massacre. A woman was killed in the incident in the town of Ocosingo.

Mr Zedillo has already dismissed his Interior Minister and the governor of Chiapas, both from the PRI, over the pre-Christmas massacre and their failure to bring peace to the poverty-stricken state.

A report by Mexico's Human Rights Commission said police must have easily heard nine hours of shooting from the hamlet of Acteal on 22 December but turned a blind eye. Police officers helped them hide their weapons, the report said.