Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Inappropriately constituted military court undermines conviction

A federal court in Mexico, the First Appellate Court in Criminal Matters of the First Circuit,  granted an amparo (writ of protection for fundamental rights), which rendered without effect the three year prison sentence and removal from his post for five years, of Lt Colonel Mario Ruiz Flores, the Second Battalion Commander of the Mexican Army and Air Force, who had been found responsible for the crime of aggravated sexual abuse by the Superior Military Court.

The resolution did not exonerate him, it only remanded the case to the Superior Court because during the trial the declaration of the victim was not received, in addition there was no face to face confrontation between the accuser and the defendant, and the Military Court was not correctly constituted.

The crime was committed on October 8, 2014, and the victim was part of the military system, as a soldier of the military police, but she deserted.  On the day of the event the victim was in the women's dormitory and at 6 pm, a soldier transmitted the order from the Lt Colonel that she present herself in his room and that she would accompany her there.  The charge indicated that the victim submitted herself to the order of her superiors.  While they were in his room, they were the object of inappropriate conduct, such as off-color proposals, the offer of intoxicating beverages and the exhibition of photos of women whom he referred to as his girlfriends.

Since the victim deserted after these events, she could not be found to press charges  and the Superior Military Court, which issued the conviction, was not constituted as required by the Code of Military Justice.

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