Reuters International

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's new accusatory justice system, which has been in the works for eight years and is due to be implemented by next month, needs 11 more years to take hold properly, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Implementation of the criminal justice reform, which has a constitutional deadline of June 18, has introduced oral trials and aims to overhaul an antiquated, dysfunctional system that leaves some perpetrators unpunished and suspects languishing in prison awaiting trial for years.

However, the study by Mexican think tank CIDAC said that, after the implementation deadline, the justice system would still be held back by challenges such as training police to conduct high-quality investigations.

"Nationally, it is estimated that it will take us eleven years on average to reach the optimum level for the SJPA (accusatory system) to be operating effectively and properly," the CIDAC report said.

Mexico's patchy justice system struggles to bring criminals to account, most recently seen in the government's botched attempts to get to the bottom of the apparent massacre of 43 students by a drug gang working with corrupt police in 2014.

Maria de los Angeles Fromow, head of Setec, the government committee responsible for implementing the reform, defended progress on the new justice system, saying it already covers 82 percent of the population.

She acknowledged that next month is just a "starting point."

"There are areas that need work, we recognise that," she said after the presentation of the report.

(Reporting by Joanna Zuckerman Bernstein; Editing by Paul Tait)

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