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Jailed Mexican General Given 14 More Years

From Reuters

A court-martialed Mexican general who human rights activists say is a prisoner of conscience has been handed his second 14-year prison term by a military court, Mexican media reported Sunday.

Gen. Jose Francisco Gallardo, 50, was arrested on suspicion of illegal enrichment and other charges in March 1993, a month after he published an article criticizing the army’s human rights record and calling for an independent agency to monitor abuses.

The crimes he was charged with allegedly were committed five years earlier.

An array of human rights groups, including Amnesty International, say the general is being punished for shining a light on the army’s poor human rights record. The army has maintained that the general stole money.

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Last month, a court-martial sentenced him to 14 years and eight months in prison for misuse of public funds and destruction of military property stemming from charges that he profited from running an army equestrian center and tried to cover it up.

On Saturday, he was sentenced to an additional 14 years for illegal enrichment after failing to demonstrate the origin of about 1.2 million pesos ($140,000 at today’s exchange rate) that was in his bank accounts, Mexican newspapers said.

The second conviction followed 13 days of testimony and five hours of deliberation by the five-member military jury, El Universal newspaper reported.

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Gallardo has the right to appeal, and his lawyer said after the earlier conviction that he would exercise that right. Speaking in his own defense during the hearing, Gallardo said the money in his bank accounts had been given to him by another general to tend to personal matters, such as building a fence and installing lights at the other general’s ranch, El Universal reported.

Gallardo said he was the victim of a dispute between two superior officers in 1988, around the time a new defense minister was to be named during a change in presidents, El Universal said.


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