The soldiers who participated in the July 3 shooting where a civilian was allegedly executed, testified that they had turned off all their cameras during the operation. However, the video released by EL UNIVERSAL on Monday contradicts these claims because it was recorded by one of the soldiers.
The incident took place on July 3, when 12 civilians died during a shooting, including three young men who had been kidnapped. Hours later, the soldiers testified before the Attorney General’s Office, where they said they had at least five cameras. Each of the shooters had a camera and another one was installed in one of the armored vehicles.
The soldiers offered a vague response: they either turned the cameras off before the operation, they were disconnected, or too far from the scene. None of them mentioned the existence of a video EL UNIVERSAL released on Monday, which was recorded by one of the shooters.
When asked if any of the soldiers knew if one of them had a camera during the operation, the commander said “the Sandcat vehicle had a camera but it wasn’t connected to record at the time.”
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Another soldier explains he wasn’t carrying a camera of his helmet because the shooters are the only ones who use them. A third soldier said he turned off the camera after the shooting started and that he wasn’t near the site.”
Another soldier testified that he knew the shooter, the one controlling the machine gun, had a camera but that he wasn’t aware if he recorded the incident.
The soldiers’ actions go against the National Law for the Use of Force, passed in 2019. It establishes that when armed forces use force as part of their tasks, they must provide a detailed account of their superiors. It also establishes that video footage can be used for investigations and legal proceedings.
According to Santiago Aguirre, the head of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center (Centro Prodh), the army should present all the footage to the Attorney General’s Office.
Martín Alvarado, the lawyer representing the victims’ families, said this is “a test for the FGR and the armed forces.”
Raúl Tercero, the father of one of the alleged kidnap victims in the truck, said in a criminal complaint filed on August 7 that he received the video from a soldier who apparently disagreed with his comrades’ behavior.
Tercero and his son are migrants from Chiapas who came to Nuevo Laredo seeking work. The other two kidnap victims killed in the shootout were a local mechanic and an engineering student reported missing days before.
The independent Nuevo Laredo Human Rights Committee said the three had no weapons on them, tested negative for having fired weapons, and were shot at close range. Relatives of two of the men said their bodies were found with their hands tied.
On Wednesday, Defense Minister Luis Cresencio Sandoval said the investigation will be carried out by military prosecutors and revealed between 22 and 24 soldiers are under investigation.
After EL UNIVERSAL revealed Mexican soldiers ordered the execution of a civilian on July 3, the United Nations urged the government to investigate the use of lethal force during the shooting that killed 12 civilians and which took place in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
This newspaper released the footage on Monday. It shows the moment when a soldier ordered his subordinates to kill the shootout survivor.