The State Department issued a statement Friday arguing that Yale professor Ernesto Zedillo GRD ’81 should have immunity against civil suit filed against him last September over crimes committed while he was president of Mexico, the New York Times reported today.

The suit alleges that Zedillo committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during a massacre that occurred doing his term. But the State Department argues that Zedillo should not face punishment because Zedillo’s acted as president, not in a personal capacity — a distinction that “generally allows heads of state freedom from the hook of American courts,” according to the Times.

Pending the confirmation of a United States federal judge, lawyers for victims of the massacre told the Times they will be unable to proceed with the case.

Zedillo, the current director of the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000.