Friday, May 16, 2014

Judge frees Michoacán militia leader on murder charges

"There is solid evidence against him" - Federal Security Commissioner Alfredo Castillo, Mar. 11

*Updated May 17*
Guadalajara -
Hipólito Mora, a prominent former autodefensas leader in Buenavista Tomatlán county in western Michoacán state and a well known spokesman for the movement, was freed this evening from a maximum security prison where he had been held since Mar. 11 on homicide charges.

Two lower courts had found probable cause to detain Mora indefinitely without bail. But a reviewing judge found there was not enough evidence to warrant further proceedings, and Mora was released from custody shortly after 8:00 p.m.

Mora was accused of the brutal murder of two militiamen in the vicinity of La Ruana, whose charred bodies were found in a pickup truck Mar. 8. The murder victims were loyal to another autodefensas boss who had challenged Mora's leadership. Mora's supporters alleged the victims had close ties to Los Caballeros Templarios, a drug cartel which wreaked havoc in the state for several years but now has been almost decimated. The Rural Defense Force, to the rescue in Michoacán.

Eduardo Quintero, Mora's fiery criminal defense lawyer who has accused previous judges in the case of being incompetent or worse, said in a radio interview earlier today, "There is insufficient evidence to establish that Mora participated in these murders, and in fact, what evidence there is suggests that he probably didn't."

A lesser charge remains pending against Mora, for which he was permitted to post a surety bond of 15,000 pesos ($1,200 USD) while the matter remains in litigation.

When Mora was arrested more than two months ago, Michoacán Federal Security Commissioner Alfredo Castillo said there was "solid evidence" for his detention. One of Castillo's main marching orders from Mexico City was to convert the autodefensas into a state controlled police force. While that process was underway, Castillo's office often found itself busy trying to stave off open warfare between competing militias and their head strong leaders. Mexico arrests key community militia leader in Michoacán, on suspicion of murder.

Although illegal, community militias continue to operate in parts of Michoacán. Some autodefensas, particularly in the important port city of Lázaro Cárdenas, have said they do not recognize the state's newly constituted Rural Defense Force, will not join it and will not abandon citizen patrol operations.

May 17 - Mora announced today that he will comply with federal law and apply for admission to the Rural Defense Force. Whether officials will accept him is unclear. Every RDF applicant must pass a background check, which may be difficult for Mora. He is one of several prominent autodefensas with unsavory personal histories.

Mora and heavily armed fellow autodefensas, earlier this year in Michoacán's Tierra Caliente

© MGR 2014. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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