MEXICO CITY The police commander who led a botched raid on a Mexico City nightclub will be charged with 12 counts of homicide, one for each person who died in the crush at the bar's entrance, prosecutors said Wednesday.
City Attorney General Rodolfo Felix Cardenas said his office is bringing the charges against precinct commander Guillermo Zayas for failing to halt Friday's mismanaged raid, in which one group of police tried to force youths out of the club while another blocked the exit to prevent them from leaving.
The club patrons, mainly minors, were caught in the middle. Nine of them were crushed or asphyxiated near the club's narrow entrance, along with three police officers. The youngest victim was 13.
"Even though there is no evidence that Guillermo Zayas ever ordered police to close the doors of the discotheque or block the entrance, it has been proven that he never gave the order to police blocking the entrance to let the youths out," Felix Cardenas told a news conference.
He argued that allowing the youths out of the club could have prevented the 12 deaths.
Seven other city officers are being held pending possible charges in the case, he said.
Francisco Chiguil Figueroa, the chief of the borough where the disco is located, was also under investigation. Chiguil told reporters he was temporarily stepping down to avoid obstructing the probe.
About 200 police raided the club looking for alcohol and drug violations. Most of the club's patrons were minors.
Initial investigations suggest that overcrowding and a locked emergency exit at the club, as well as police errors, caused the tragedy.
Police initially began allowing youths out and loading them onto buses to take them to police stations. The officers apparently stopped allowing club patrons out after the police buses filled up.
Those who made it into the buses avoided being asphyxiated, but many claimed they suffered beatings or abuse at the hands of police.
The club's owner and an employee have been charged with corrupting minors and may face other charges for code violations. The legal drinking age in Mexico City is 18.