MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – A court in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas has sentenced two army officers to 30 years in prison for femicide over the killing a female soldier, the state attorney general’s office said on Friday.
In addition to handing down the jail terms, the court ordered the army captains to each pay a fine of almost 520,000 pesos ($25,194) for killing the 28-year-old woman in April 2019, according to the attorney general’s office.
Femicide is defined under Mexican law as murder of a woman stemming from gender-based violence. After climbing sharply during the last few years of the previous administration, femicides have crept even higher under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
In a statement, the attorney general’s office identified the accused as Jose Antonio “N” and Agustin “N”, leaving out their last names in accordance with established practice in Mexico.
A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said the two men were army captains.
Convictions of soldiers are rare in Mexico, where the armed forces are regarded as a pillar of the establishment.
“It’s very unusual to have verdicts issued against the military for human rights issues,” said Raul Benitez, a security expert at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “And even more unusual for femicide.”
The army has taken on more responsibilities under Lopez Obrador since he took office in December 2018 pledging to pacify Mexico after years of rising violence.
Critics argue the military have been shielded from facing justice over human rights abuses, particularly those committed since former president Felipe Calderon sent in the armed forces to crack down on Mexico’s powerful drug gangs 15 years ago.
Mexico’s government denies this, saying it is committed to holding all criminals to account.
($1 = 20.6400 Mexican pesos)
(Reporting by Dave Graham; Editing by Sandra Maler)