Jailed indigenous teacher freed under new Mexican pardon law

Imprisoned indigenous teacher Alberto Patishtan sits with his daughter Gabriela and nephew during a news conference at a prison in San Cristobal de las Casas September 13, 2013. REUTERS/Moyses Zuniga

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - An indigenous Mexican teacher jailed over a decade ago for the slayings of seven people was released on Thursday under a pardon by President Enrique Pena Nieto after the government found evidence the teacher's rights had been abused.

Alberto Patishtan was arrested in 2000 for the murder of seven policemen, who were killed in an ambush in Chiapas state. Although he denies committing the crime, he was convicted in 2002 and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Human rights groups say the 42-year-old was imprisoned on trumped-up charges.

Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said scrutiny of the case had thrown up "evidence consistent with grave human rights violations, particularly of due process."

Pena Nieto had announced on Tuesday that he planned to pardon Patishtan. The pardon comes under a new law that widens the scope of presidential reprieves.

Mexico's legal system is widely criticized for offering scant protection to victims and suspects of crimes. Few cases are successfully investigated and prosecuted, while police are often accused of manufacturing evidence or extracting dubious confessions in order to gain convictions.

(Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; Editing by Simon Gardner and Cynthia Osterman)