On July 18, Judge Michael Shea of the Connecticut District Court dismissed the lawsuit accusing Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81, director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, with covering up a massacre of 45 civilians during his time as president of Mexico.
Shea dismissed the case following the State Department’s Suggestion of Immunity for Zedillo, which argued that he cannot be prosecuted for actions that were within his capacity as a head-of-state. Zedillo’s attorney, Jonathan Freiman LAW ’98, filed for the case’s dismissal on the same grounds. A lawyer for the 10 anonymous plaintiffs told the Associated Press he would appeal the ruling, but Freiman called any future appeals by the plaintiffs “frivolous.”
Zedillo was unable to be reached for comment this week while he had his first meeting as a part of The Elders, a 12-person group of world leaders working for human rights, founded by former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela and led by former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan.
“President Zedillo was pleased to see this fallacious and insulting suit thrown out,” Freiman told the News in an email. “In analyzing Ernesto Zedillo’s record on human rights, we should trust Nelson Mandela and Kofi Annan, not the baseless allegations of nameless plaintiffs.”
The 10 plaintiffs first filed the lawsuit against Zedillo in Sept. of 2011. The suit claimed the former president attempted to cover up the 1997 Acteal Massacre, in which parliamentary soldiers allegedly connected with the government killed 45 civilians in Acteal, Mexico. The plaintiffs identified themselves as survivors of the attack, but their continued anonymity has led to speculation that the lawsuit is politically motivated.
In Sept. 2012, the State Department issued its recommendation that Zedillo remain immune from prosecution over actions connected with his official position. This suggestion set the foundation for the case’s eventual dismissal last week.
University Spokesman Tom Conroy said in a statement to the News that Zedillo’s coworkers at Yale are “no doubt pleased” at the suit’s dismissal. Conroy added Zedillo fulfilled all of his responsibilities to Yale during the legal action.