08/19/12 – The fourth prison sentencing in the News Divine night club tragedy that occurred four years ago when Federal District police blocked the only exit during an underage drinking raid has been handed down, though not without criticism and backlash. 12 individuals were killed in the raid, including four minors and three police officers, yet until the end of July, only three of the 35 individuals singled out as sharing responsibility for the episode had been sentenced to jail, and only one other–Alfredo Maya Ortiz, the night club’s owner–remained behind bars awaiting the court’s decision. On July 31, the court overseeing Maya’s case handed down a 24-year prison sentence with a fine of 216,933 pesos (about $16,500 USD) for selling alcohol to minors at his establishment, a steep sentence compared to the other three suspects previously charged. The assistant legal director of the Gustavo A. Madero delegation in which News Divine is located only received five years in prison for “failing to render a public service;” a medic received nine years for inappropriately undressing female victims at the scene; and an agent with the Public Prosecutor’s Office received three years for obstructing justice. All were either released on bail or had the charges dropped after appeals, and now remain free.
According to Univision Noticias, Maya’s judgment was due to his ‘leadership position’ within the club, and his emphasis on profit over appropriate age controls. This case has attracted significant attention because the 24-year sentence was allegedly based solely on the crime of selling beer to minors, worded as “corruption of minors” in the legal documents, and Maya has never been formally charged with culpability for the raid related deaths. Maya is also the only civilian who was arrested, while the remaining suspects are public servants. In a statement from the Federal District’s Commission of Human Rights (Comisión de Derechos Humanos del Distrito Federal, CDHDF), the agency tasked with investigating why the 31 others cases have been pending for so long, the organization strongly asserted that Maya’s sentence does not lessen the culpability of the police officers and other public officials still waiting for their cases to be heard.
Maya’s sentencing provoked ire from the families of the victims who contest that justice is not being served despite the ruling. For one, they argue that punishing him for serving to minors does not hold him responsible for his role in the victims’ deaths. Patricia Domínguez simply stated that her underage son who perished at the nightclub “did not die intoxicated,” implying that Maya’s and others’ guilt should not revolve around the fact that minors were served alcohol. The families also continue to demand swifter justice, pointing to the fact that the cases of 31 of the 35 suspects apprehended still remain open and unresolved. Said Rubén Tapia Gamboa, who also lost a son at News Divine, “those responsible are still in the street.”