Three years after the Zapatista uprising in Chiapas shook the local political establishment, a pacifist group calling themselves Las Abejas (the Bees) held a prayers meeting in the Catholic Church in the tiny village of Acteal.  

Although declared pacifists, the Bees supported the anti-government stand of the Zapatista insurgents.On December 22, 1997, they were set upon by a paramilitary group known as Mascara Roja -- Red Mask -- where 45 people were killed. 

That massacre has now led to a lawsuit filed in Connecticut against Mexico's former President at the time, Ernesto Zedillo, who's now a Yale University professor. He is being sued for alleged crimes against humanity in connection with killings.

Lawyers for 10 unnamed relatives of the victims filed the lawsuit last Friday in U.S. District Court in Hartford, alleging Zedillo was responsible for the massacre by paramilitary groups in the village of Acteal in the state of Chiapas and tried to cover up the killings. 

The Yale Daily News reports the plaintiffs are seeking damages against Zedillo that are likely to exceed $10 million.

Zedillo, who was president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000, is now a professor of international studies at Yale. He sent emails to news organizations this week denying the allegations.

The Associated Press contributed to this article. 

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