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Mexico: 7 police charged with torture in army slaying case

FILE - This July 3, 2014 file photo shows the warehouse where 22 alleged gang members were killed by soldiers on the outskirts of the village of San Pedro Limon, in Mexico state, Mexico. One year after soldiers executed as many as 15 suspects at a grain warehouse in southern Mexico, many say justice has still not been done. Human rights groups said Tuesday, June 30, 2015, the Mexican government must clear up the truth about what happened on June 30 2014. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Authorities in Mexico on Wednesday formally accused seven state police officers of torturing three women who survived a confrontation a year ago in which soldiers allegedly killed at least a dozen suspected gang members after they surrendered.

Four of the police officers have been detained and a judge is expected to issue an arrest warrant for the other three, according to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office in Mexico State, where the killings took place.

The charges came a year after the bloodshed at a warehouse on June 30, 2014.

In November, three soldiers were charged with aggravated homicide and four others, including a lieutenant, were charged with “actions improper to the public service” for failing to report the killings. But there have been no trials.

The incident initially was announced as a gunbattle between when suspected criminals fired on an army patrol. The army said 22 suspects died during a fierce firefight, but only one soldier was wounded.

Questions about the killings, known as the “Tlatlaya case” after the rural township where they occurred, were first brought to light by an Associated Press story last July that reported on apparent contradictions in the army’s account.

AP journalists who visited the scene three days later found little evidence of a long gunbattle. Bullet holes in the walls showed the same pattern: one or two closely placed bullet holes, surrounded by spattered blood, giving the appearance that some of those killed had been standing against a wall and shot at about chest level.

The Mexican government’s Human Rights Commission later reported that its investigation determined that at least 12 and probably 15 people had been executed at the warehouse.

Three women who survived came forward to say that agents of the Mexico State prosecutor’s office had tortured them to support the army’s version.

Before Wednesday, no charges had been filed against any of the detectives or prosecutor’s agents accused of trying to cover up the case, although the Mexico State prosecutor had said about 20 were under investigation.

The state government has said it is considering payments to the women, while the federal Commission for the Attention of Victims will pay about $3.2 million to the families of all 22 people killed.

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