Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More on the Mexican Supreme Court's jurisdictional ruling

Here is El Diario's account of the Mexican Supreme Court's latest ruling on court-martial jurisdiction:
Soldiers accused of drug trafficking and other federal crimes should be tried by military courts, the Supreme Court held today. By 6 votes to 4, the Full Court considered that the criteria set in 2012 on the limits of military law apply only when civilians are involved as victims or accomplices of crimes committed by soldiers, but not in other settings.
The Court had already held this view in September 2012, when it spent more than a month reviewing criminal cases against soldiers and ruled that article 57 of the Code of Military Justice gave military courts jurisdiction over crimes committed against civilians. However, two of the justices who voted on that occasion, Salvador Aguirre and Guillermo Ortiz, have retired, while another, Sergio Valls, is on leave for health reasons, which opened the possibility of a majority ruling the other way. In the end, Justices Alfredo Gutierrez and Alberto Pérez Dayan, who joined the Court in December 2012, voted to reiterate the view that cases not involving civilians are subject to military jurisdiction. The amparo case was brought by Luis Alberto Martínez Campos, who was convicted in 2007 by the Supreme Military Court for allowing the passage of a shipment of marijuana into the United States. . . . 
Justice José Ramón Cossio, in the minority, reiterated the position put forward in 2012. "Consider that in constitutional terms, we are in peacetime," Cossio said. "Unlike wartime, in peacetime military courts should be limited to offenses against military discipline provided the active and passive subjects are military, and they are in the spaces provided in the second part of Article 129 of the Constitution," i.e., bases and barracks. Taking a less extreme view, Justices Juan Silva Meza, Olga Sánchez Cordero and Arturo Zaldivar also reiterated their view that military law should be limited to cases that actually affect military property and values. [Rough Google translation]

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