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Authorities work at the site of a deadly fire at an immigration detention center, where covered bodies lie on the ground in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Image Credit: AP

Mexico city: A top Mexican immigration official was charged Saturday over the deaths of 40 migrants in a fire at a detention center last month.

Salvador Gonzalez Guerrero, head of the National Institute of Migration (INM) in the northern state of Chihuahua, was charged with homicide, injury and unlawful exercise of public service, according to the federal judiciary council.

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The magistrate ordered that Gonzalez Guerrero be remanded in custody.

According to Mexican authorities, the fire in Ciudad Juarez, on the border with the US city of El Paso, started when a migrant set fire to the mattress in his cell, where he was being held with 67 other men, to protest his possible deportation.

Security camera footage showed that once the fire broke out, neither immigration nor security personnel attempted to evacuate the migrants.

Nineteen Guatemalans, seven Salvadorans, seven Venezuelans, six Hondurans and one Colombian died. Most of their bodies have been repatriated.

Four other immigration officials have been detained, as well as a security guard and the man accused of starting the fire.

Francisco Garduno Yanez, the INM commissioner and most senior official, has also been named in the prosecutor's investigation.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said the commissioner would remain in office while his responsibility in the event was determined.

Garduno will appear before a judge next Tuesday to respond to the prosecution's accusations.