OAXACA, Mexico Ã¢â‚¬â€ The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the governor of a southern Mexican state is responsible for rights abuses during 2006 protests that paralyzed a colonial city and left least a dozen people dead.
The ruling has no binding consequences for Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz but carries moral weight. A similar ruling in 1996 prompted the resignation of the governor of western Guerrero state over the massacre of 17 farm workers.
Leftist groups battled with authorities in the Oaxaca state capital of the same name for five months in 2006. The conflict started as a teachers' strike and quickly ballooned into a broader movement to demand Ruiz's resignation over allegations that he rigged his electoral victory. Demonstrators hijacked and burned buses to create roadblocks and chased police out of the picturesque city.
The Supreme Court ruled that Ruiz bore "plain responsibility" for the conflict.
Ruiz, who has remained in office and denies he stole the election, issued a statement saying he had no immediate comment on the Supreme Court ruling.
The movement behind the protests Ã¢â‚¬â€ the People's Assembly of Oaxaca, or APPO Ã¢â‚¬â€ applauded the ruling and said Ruiz should immediately resign.
"He should be criminally prosecuted," said APPO leader Flavio Sosa.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court absolved the government of then-President Vincente Fox of any responsibility for the deaths and other abuses. it was federal security forces that finally moved in and cleared out the demonstrators.
A dozen people were killed in the conflict, mostly protesters shot by gunmen, including Bradley Roland Will, a 36-year-old journalist-activist from New York. Will was killed while filming a clash between demonstrators and gunmen.