3 Tzeltal Indigenous imprisoned in Chilón on false charges

** Frayba accuses the use of torture to obtain confessions

** They are accused of injuring a police agent at the festivities on Sept 16

By: Hermann Bellinghausen

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The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), along with the Tzeltal ejido owners of San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas, denounced the detention, torture and imprisonment on false charges of Juan Antonio Gómez Silvano, Mario Aguilar Silvano and Roberto Gómez Hernández. The Frayba documented “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, committed by members of the Chilón municipal police against indigenous adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle.

The organisation reports that on September 16, towards 4 o’clock in the morning, some 40 police arrested the 3 men while they were heading home. “From that moment they were punched and kicked, they sprayed gas in their eyes, they were handcuffed and put in a municipal police truck, already submitted and face down they stepped on their backs and hands to immobilize them.” The blows and the gas spray continued at the command post, “interrogating them about two firearms and injuries to a police agent.” The accused said that they knew nothing about the acts.

On September 17, now in the office of the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público, MP) [1] in Ocosingo, they were beaten in the presence of Rodolfo Manuel Gómez Gutiérrez, an MP agent. “They provoked the asphyxiation of Mario with a plastic bag and punched him in the head with the palm of their hand, insisting that he confess with respect to the firearm and incriminate himself with having shot and injured a police agent.”

The indigenous were obliged to put their fingerprint on a statement which they did not read to them. Frayba emphasizes that they don’t know how to read or write, also that their language is Tzeltal. “They didn’t have a translator or a trustworthy lawyer.” On September 18, they were assigned to prison. “On rendering their preparatory statement before Judge Omar Heredia, they achieved that he would take judicial notice of their injuries, asking the MP’s prosecutor to initiate appropriate investigations in to probable acts of torture, supporting them with the State Law for the Prevention and Punishment of Torture.” Frayba questions the behaviour of the Chilón municipal police and the MP’s agency in Ocosingo “for the use of torture as a method of police investigation.”

The organisation asks the state’s Attorney General of Justice to investigate the behaviour of the police agents and of agent Gómez Gutiérrez of the MP “for the crime of torture, described in the Chiapas Penal Code.” Besides, it warns, “the judge who is hearing the case against Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario, must throw out the illegal evidence obtained under torture.”

During the Independence Day festivities in the early morning of September 16, shots were heard in the municipal capital of Chilón and a police agent was wounded. Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario were at the festivities and were walking to their homes when they were arrested and accused of shooting the injured police agent, Alfredo Bernabé Aguilar Fuentes.

The Tzeltal ejido owners say that the apprehension and torture of their compañeros were carried out on the orders of the municipal commander Francisco Sanchez Guzmán. For several hours, no official agency acknowledged having the detainees. They were able to see them on September 17 in Ocosingo: “They were all beaten. We wanted to speak with them but the municipal police had surrounded the legal office and only allowed family members to pass through, not the community authorities.” They were tortured by the MP; he pointed a pistol at Mario’s head “so that he would incriminate himself.”

The prisoners identified among their captors the police agent Agustín Sánchez Jiménez, “a friend and neighbour of Sebastián Méndez Hernández, currently imprisoned for the murder of Juan Carlos Gómez Silvano (on March 21, near Virgen de Dolores, where they fired more than 20 shots at him).” The ejido owners consider that: “it is in revenge for seeking those responsible for the murder of our compañero.”

The ejido owners also demand the release of Santiago Moreno López and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, incarcerated at Playas de Catazajá (since 2009 and 2013, respectively) on false charges, as part of the continuing persecution of the ejido owners.

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Translator’s Note: [1]. The local Public Ministry is a local Prosecutor’s office.

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Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Thursday, September 25, 2014

En español: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2014/09/25/politica/016n1pol

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the:

International Zapatista Translation Service

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