Federal Judge Frees Former Mexican President

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Genocide charges were dropped against former President Luis Echeverria Saturday when a judge ruled that the statute of limitations had expired, his lawyer said.

Attorney Juan Velazquez said that the federal judge had overturned a house arrest order on the genocide charges, which stemmed from a 1968 student massacre.

A phone call to the special prosecutor's office that filed the charges went unanswered Saturday.

Echeverria was interior secretary when the massacre took place. He went on to serve as president from 1970-1976.

The decision was the latest blow to prosecutors' attempts to bring charges against Echeverria for his actions during Mexico's so-called Dirty War, a violent crackdown on leftist dissidents in the 1960s and 1970s.

Prosecutors can still appeal the decision, but Velazquez said he was confident that the ruling would be upheld.

"The case is not finished, but it's dead," he said.