updated 11/29/2006 7:17:39 PM ET 2006-11-30T00:17:39

A Mexican court reinstated an arrest warrant for former President Luis Echeverria on Wednesday, just four months after a federal judge had dismissed the same charges of genocide in connection with a 1968 student massacre.

It was unclear whether police would immediately try to serve the warrant for Echeverria, 84, who would likely face only house arrest because of his age.

Echeverria's lawyer, Juan Velasquez, confirmed the arrest warrant had been reinstated on an appeal by prosecutors.

The court accepted prosecutors' arguments that Echeverria was essentially protected from prosecution until he left office on Dec. 1, 1976, and that the 30-year statute of limitations should be calculated from that date.

Velasquez said he was appealing.

Echeverria, who was president of Mexico from 1970 to 1976, was the country's interior secretary on Oct. 2, 1968, when soldiers opened fire on a student pro-democracy demonstration in Mexico City's Tlatelolco Plaza just before the capital hosted the Olympics. Official reports said 25 people were killed, but human rights activists say as many as 350 may have died.

Prosecutors have had little success in their attempts to try Echeverria or other top former officials for killings and disappearances under a government campaign against leftists in the 1960s and '70s.

Echeverria was placed under house arrest in Mexico City in June — the first time a warrant has been served against a former Mexican president. But the case was dismissed in July after a judge ruled the statute of limitations had expired.

It is unlikely Echeverria would go to jail in any case, since a 2004 law designed to reduce costs in the criminal justice system allows judges to grant house arrest for suspects 70 and older.

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