Mexican Ex-Ruler Avoids Charges
Laurie Freeman, a Mexico specialist at the Washington Office on Latin America, a policy and rights group, said that yesterday's ruling was not surprising because "the case is so political."
"But the special prosecutor's arguments are compelling, so I think he still has a chance before the Supreme Court," Freeman said.
In his decision, Flores apparently did not discuss the merits of the genocide charge. Analysts in Mexico and the United States have said they do not understand how Carrillo Prieto would prove that Echeverria committed genocide, defined in Mexican and international law as crimes against people of a particular race, nationality or ethnicity. Carrillo Prieto has not made public all the details of his arguments against Echeverria.
But even some of Echeverria's staunchest critics, who believe he is responsible for many crimes, wonder if Carrillo Prieto, in the face of enormous political pressure and legal complexities, is reaching too far in his attempt to bring genocide charges.
"Was Kent State genocide?" said Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, Fox's former national security adviser and former ambassador to the United Nations, referring to the killing of four students in 1970at that Ohio university.
Judge Flores was involved in a similar high-profile case in 2001. Carlos Cabal Peniche, a fugitive banker who had allegedly bilked investors out of millions of dollars, was arrested in Australia after three years of hiding and extradited to Mexico in September 2001.
According to Mexican media reports, Cabal Peniche was brought before Flores, who freed him, ruling that the statute of limitations had expired for the crime with which Cabal Peniche had been charged. The attorney general's office appealed and Flores's decision was overturned, news media reports said. The Cabal Peniche case was returned to Flores, who imposed a fine of more than $400 million in 2002, the reports said.
Eric Olson, spokesman for Amnesty International in Washington, called Flores's decision in the Echeverria case disappointing. "We hope it's not the final word in the search for justice in these cases," he said.
Researchers Gabriela Martinez in Mexico City and Bart Beeson in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, contributed to this report.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Former President Luis Echeverria, shown in 2002, escaped charges.
Special Report This occasional series from The Post examines how the absence of the rule of law affects ordinary Mexicans.