MEXICO CITY – A Mexican woman who says her two adult children were unjustly detained and tortured by Federal Police in 2011 told EFE her years-long effort to secure their release has been a form of imprisonment for her as well.
Austreberta Casales’s ordeal dates back to June 2011, when her daughter, Veronica Razo, was arrested by four men in civilian clothes who took her to a Federal Police warehouse.
Casales says her daughter was beaten, choked and raped to coerce her into confessing to a kidnapping she did not commit.
She says she discovered the following day that her son, Erick Razo, also had suffered a similar fate, adding that she has done everything in her power, including enlisting the help of human rights groups such as London-based Amnesty International, to free them.
“I can’t take it anymore. It’s been seven years now. Although I’m living in freedom, I’ve been incarcerated too,” Casales told EFE, referring to the fact she had been in retirement but had to return to work to be able to send her children money.
“All that has caused health, economic and emotional problems. There’s no relief,” she said.
Casales’s voice cracks when she talks about her grandchildren, aged 20 and 13, who have been living with her in Mexico City – and far from their mother, jailed in the central state of Morelos –, saying they have been robbed of seven years of their childhoods.
“Thank God my children have had psychological care inside jail. They’re desperate, but I think they’re holding up well and know we’re fighting to get them out. They’re very eager” to be released, she added.
A final sentence has not been handed down in either of their cases, according to Casales, who said they both remain in preventive detention on kidnapping charges stemming from forced confessions.
The National Human Rights Commission, Mexico’s equivalent of an ombudsman’s office, has told prosecutors that the Razo siblings were victims of torture and arbitrary detention.
In December, Amnesty International submitted 135,000 signatures to Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office demanding that Veronica Razo be released, but “they didn’t even come out to receive them,” Casales said.
Referring to the kidnapping charges, she said she suspects an abduction did occur but that Federal Police officers “devised some ruse” to place the blame on her children.