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Mexican migration authority boss charged over fire

2023-06-05 20:24:23 [Press center7] source:The New York Times

The head of Mexico's migration authority, Francisco Garduño, has been charged in connection with a deadly fire at a migrant centre in Ciudad Juárez on 27 March.

Forty migrants from Central and South America died behind bars when smoke filled a cell they were being held in.

CCTV footage appeared to show the guards walking away as the fire spread without opening the locked cell door.

Mr Garduño is the most senior official to be charged over the fire.

The deadly blaze caused outrage and raised questions about the handling of the treatment of migrants by the Mexican authorities.

A court in Ciudad Juárez ruled on Sunday that there was sufficient evidence to charge Mr Garduño with "unlawful exercise of public office".

The 74-year-old has not been arrested but has been ordered to regularly report to the authorities.

Prosecutors argue that his failure to act led to the death of the migrants who were being held at the centre run by the National Institute of Migration (INM) just south of the US-Mexico border.

The prosecution has been given four months to build its case against Mr Garduño before the trial starts.

Mr Garduño said he could not comment on the ongoing case.

Last week, more footage of the minutes leading up to the fire were shared by local newspaper El Diario de Juárez.

In it, guards appear to walk away from the room which is quickly filling with smoke without seeming to take any action to free the migrants who were locked in the cell where the fire started.

Mexican officials say a migrant caused the fire by setting a mattress alight in protest at the poor conditions they were being held in.

The migrant suspected of starting the fire and as well as four guards have been arrested and are being investigated for possible homicide.

(editor-in-charge:Press center5)

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