Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Court-martial jurisdiction over narco-trafficking by Mexican military personnel

By a 6-4 vote, the full Supreme Court of Mexico has upheld the court-martial conviction of Army Captain Luis Alberto Martínez Campos, who was tried in 2007 for attempting to ship a cargo of cocaine to the United States. He was sentenced to just over 15 years in prison. Details can be found in this article in El Financiero. According to this account, President Juan N. Silva Meza and Ministers Jose Ramon Cossio Diaz, Olga Sánchez Cordero and Arturo Zaldivar dissented, citing the court's Radilla decision, which held
. . . that when an active soldier was not charged with offenses within military jurisdiction, the case "must always be judged by the ordinary courts."
Justice Cossio said at the session last Thursday that it was time for the court to analyze "the general position of the military in our democratic constitutional order" and make clear that in peacetime military justice only applies to crimes and offenses against military discipline, as long as no civilian is involved.
He said that in peacetime, the military "cannot perform more functions than those connected with military discipline and in the barracks, command centers and other military installations."
Unless war has been declared, rights are suspended, or the President has made an explicit order directing all the armed forces to protect the internal security and external defense of the country, "all the actions of the military on active duty outside military installations, must be tried by the ordinary courts." [Rough Google translation]

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