November 3, 2014 12:33 AM EST

Seven Mexican soldiers are to be tried by a civilian judge for the June 30 killings of 22 suspected criminals, federal justice officials said Sunday. Three have been charged with aggravated homicide.

The suspects have been held in a military detention center since Friday when a state judge ordered their arrest for dereliction of duty, reports AFP.

In September, a witness claimed the gun battle in question produced only one fatality and that the troops had murdered the other 21 victims.

Should they be found guilty, the incident would rank as one of the worst in Mexico’s savage drugs war that has claimed more than 80,000 lives since 2006.


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