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Mexican police in 'torture' class?*

July 1, 2008 | 12:57 pm

Reforma_screen_grab Videos have surfaced in Mexico over the last 24 hours in which the elite police force of the city of León, Guanajuato, is apparently shown taking a class on how to torture suspects.

One of the videos shows members of a tactical unit trying out methods on a fellow officer. They appear to squirt water up his nose and dunk his head in a hole said to be full of excrement and rats. The man gasps for air and moans repeatedly.

In another video, an unidentified English-speaking man who appears to be training the group forces one exhausted agent to roll over into his own vomit, the Associated Press is reporting.

The news, which was on the front page of today's edition of one of Mexico's leading newspapers, Reforma, will do little to improve the bad reputation that Mexico's police have both nationally and internationally.

It may also trouble those opposed to the recently approved Merida Initiative, which promises to put millions of United States dollars toward funding Mexico's police and army in their fight against the country's drug cartels. On the other hand, the film could back up the new aid package by providing evidence of the need for more training and supervision of Mexico's police and army. The cash injection from the Merida Initiative proposes fund "technical advice and training to strengthen the institutions of justice."

But Vincente Guerrero Reynosa, the mayor of León* (an earlier version of this post misidentified him as the governor of the state of Guanajuato), said that the exercises were held so the police could resist torture rather than give it, and that they were preparation for "extreme situations."

You can watch the videos, which are also on Reforma's subscription site, here on YouTube at the following links; they may disturb some viewers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrdL6ggkcUw

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g60tfTHOOpI

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City

Photo: A screen grab of the leaked videos, in which a policeman is shown being forced to roll in his own vomit.

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