In an unprecedented move against impunity in Mexico, former Mexican President Luis Echeverría and other high-level officials were charged today with political killings from the 1970s, Human Rights Watch said.

“By bringing a case against a former president, the special prosecutor has done what for years was unthinkable in Mexico,” said José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division.

Early this morning, the Mexican special prosecutor Ignacio Carrillo Prieto filed charges against President Echeverría and 11 other officials in connection with the 1971 “Corpus Christi massacre,” in which police and paramilitary forces are alleged to have killed at least 30 student protesters in Mexico City.

Carrillo Prieto was appointed by President Vicente Fox in 2002 to investigate and prosecute past human rights abuses against dissidents and opposition groups under previous administrations.

“It remains to be seen whether the case will result in real accountability,” said Vivanco. “The Mexican authorities need to show that officials responsible for crimes like these are not above the law.”