September 19, 2017 / 12:53 AM / a year ago

Mexico's Puebla state revokes Cabify permit after woman's death

MEXICO CITY, Sept 18 (Reuters) - The central Mexican state of Puebla said on Monday it had revoked the operating license of ride-hailing firm Cabify after one of its drivers was arrested on suspicion of murdering a female passenger.

The body of Mara Fernanda Castilla, 19, was found near a motel in the city of Puebla on Friday, sparking weekend protests about violence against women in various parts of Mexico.

Diodoro Carrasco, Puebla's interior minister, told a news conference the state had withdrawn the license of the Madrid-based Cabify due to "irregularities in its security protocols."

A total of 647 women were murdered in Mexico during the first six months of 2017, according to data published by the National Citizen Observatory (ONC), a civil group monitoring justice and security in the country.

Prosecutors said they believe the driver, identified only as Ricardo N., killed Castilla at the motel after she had hailed a car with the service.

In a statement, Cabify questioned the decision to revoke the license and said it was working on measures to improve security precautions, including developing a panic button for the platform.

Capitalizing on concerns about dangerous drivers, a Mexican start-up called Laudrive competes with Uber and Cabify for ride-hailing business in Mexico City by exclusively serving women using female drivers.

Luis Fernando Montes de Oca, the chief executive of Laudrive, said demand for his 750 female drivers had almost doubled since Castilla's body was found on Friday. (Reporting by Noe Torres; Editing by Richard Chang)

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