New on Mexican TV: Videotaped Confessions

Critics say made-for-TV interviews often coerced
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 29, 2011 6:21 PM CDT
Mexican Crime Suspects Confess on Made-for-TV Video Recordings
Mexico state policemen escort Oscar Garcia, 36, during a presentation to the press in Toluca, Mexico, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Agencia MVT, Mario Vazquez de la Torre)

Watched any Mexican TV lately? You may have seen the common ritual of law enforcement officers parading a "perp" before the news media—but now you can also watch his full videotaped confession. Or what authorities claim is his confession. "This is for the authorities, who want to show they are working hard and defeating the criminals," says one lawyer. "It is a publicity stunt." Other critics say the confessions are often coerced and aren't admissible in court. But the Washington Post admits they make for great television.

Asked on video how many executions he has ordered, accused mass murderer Oscar Osvaldo Garcia says, "Ordered? I believe more than 300 executions." And what did he use? "Knives and chain saws.” And so on. Some analysts say the confessions help suspects make better deals in Mexico's notoriously troubled legal system. But others are likely to languish in jail indefinitely. One human rights advocate blames the media for broadcasting the videotapes: "It is the media who judge them," he says. (More Mexico stories.)

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