Mexican judge hands down country’s first life sentence

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ciudad Juarez (Mexico), Dec 23 (IANS/EFE) A judge in the northern state of Chihuahua imposed Mexico’s first sentence of life in prison, the state Attorney General’s Office said.

Alfredo Cruz Guzman, 18, found guilty of kidnapping and auto theft, was sentenced in accordance with recent revisions to the state penal code.

He was a member of a recently dismantled kidnapping gang that operated in Ciudad Juarez, a violent metropolis just across the border from El Paso, Texas, the Chihuahua AG’s office said.

State Gov. Cesar Duarte hailed the harsh sentence, pointing out during a visit to Juarez that Cruz tortured and mutilated his captives.

“I want to make it clear that, even with the approval of the Federal Anti-kidnapping Law, the state is ready to exercise its sovereignty, enforce the law and the life sentence,” the Chihuahua governor said here Tuesday.

Duarte was referring to a vote last month in the Mexican Senate to establish a maximum prison term of 70 years for kidnappers who kill their captives.

Chihuahua accounts for more than a third of the 30,000-plus drug-war deaths reported in Mexico over the last four years, while Juarez is the country’s murder capital, with 3,100 homicides this year.

In October, the state legislature passed a bill mandating life in prison for kidnappers, extortionists, killers of journalists and police and multiple-murderers.

Like Spain and most other Latin American nations, Mexico has traditionally limited to 30 years the amount of time anyone can be held behind bars.


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