MEXICO CITY – A founder of the self-defense forces that took up arms in the western Mexican state of Michoacan in 2013 to confront organized crime plans to accuse Mexico before the International Criminal Court (ICC) of jailing him for three years on trumped-up charges, his lawyer said on Thursday.
“We plan on taking the case to the International Criminal Court in The Hague because of the crimes against humanity that were committed,” attorney Ignacio Mendoza told Radio Formula on behalf of his client, Dr. Jose Manuel Mireles.
The physician was arrested in the port city of Lazaro Cardenas on June 27, 2014, along with 82 other members of the militias.
Mireles was charged with illegal possession of guns designated as exclusively for use by the military.
A judge released Mireles from federal prison in May 2017 and a court recently acquitted the vigilante leader on the weapons charges.
Besides asking the ICC to hear the case, Mireles plans to file civil suits against Mexican officials seeking compensation for the time he spent behind bars, Mendoza said.
The likely targets of the lawsuits include the erstwhile federal security commissioner in Michoacan, Alfredo Castillo, and the state’s then-attorney general, Martin Godoy.
Other federal authorities such as the Mexican Attorney General’s Office could also be taken to court.
In May 2014, the Mexican government began to regularize Michoacan’s self-defense forces by incorporating them into a rural police force.
Mireles and many other members of his group, however, rejected the proposal to join the new corps and continued carrying out policing activities in several municipalities.