Mexican army makes rare apology over woman's torture

Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos reads out a public apology before 26,000 soldiers assembled at a military base in Mexico City on April 16, 2016.
Mexican Defense Secretary Salvador Cienfuegos reads out a public apology before 26,000 soldiers assembled at a military base in Mexico City on April 16, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - The Mexican army made a rare public apology on Saturday (April 16) over a scandal in which two soldiers and a policewoman tortured a terrified woman in a video that went viral.

It is just the latest allegation of abuse committed by security forces in Mexico, who are often accused of violent acts against civilians, including murder.

General Salvador Cienfuegos, the defense minister, read out the apology before 26,000 soldiers assembled at a military base in Mexico City.

"In the name of all of us who make up this great national institution, I offer my heartfelt apology to all in society wronged by this impermissible event," Cienfuegos said.

In the video, which went viral on social media this week, a barefoot woman is seen crying and screaming on the floor as a female soldier puts the muzzle of an assault rifle to her head.

A federal policewoman is then seen handcuffing the woman and proceeding to tightly wrap a plastic bag around her head while one of the officials demands threateningly: "Are you going to talk?"

The incident is reported to have taken place in February 2015 in the town of Ajuchitlan del Progreso, in the southern state of Guerrero.

The defense ministry says it only learned of the video in December.

The male army captain and the female soldier seen in the video were arrested in January and charged with disobeying orders.

Mexican authorities are investigating a policewoman to determine if she was the one in the footage.

"It's necessary to publicly express our outrage over the regrettable events that occurred nearly 14 months ago," Cienfuegos said.

"Bad members of our institution besmirch the honourable behavior of thousands of women and men in military uniform."

"Although isolated, (such incidents) damage in a major way our image and the prestige we have worthily earned." he added.