Former Mexican president and current Yale professor Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 claimed in court documents filed Friday that his status as a former head of state gives him immunity from a lawsuit filed in Connecticut District Court over the 1997 massacre of 45 Mexican villagers.
“The plaintiffs’ lawsuit against President Zedillo amounts to no more than a misguided effort to impugn the reputation of someone widely regarded by international leaders and scholars as the architect of historic reforms that led Mexico into a new dawn of electoral freedom, respect for human rights, and a flourishing economy,” the motion said.
Zedillo’s lawyers told the Associated Press they have no knowledge of the U.S. ever denying a former national leader’s claim for immunity from a lawsuit involving official acts. Stanford Law professor Jenny Martinez ’93, who specializes in international courts and tribunals, said in September 2011 that Zedillo might successfully claim immunity because the laws applying to former heads of state are complex.
State Department officials will issue an opinion on whether they believe Zedillo has immunity from the lawsuit, according to the Associated Press. The plaintiffs will likely follow by filing documents opposing Zedillo’s motion to dismiss the case.
Zedillo was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000. At Yale, he directs the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.