Semeí Verdía Released from Prison for Lack of Evidence
Semeí Verdía, Primer Comandante,
Community Police of Santa María de Ostula, Michocán
Francisco Castellanos J.
Proceso, 24th December,2015
Morelia, Michoacán – This morning, Jaime Liera Álvarez, Judge of the Third Criminal Court seated in Morelia, capital of Michoacan, issued the release of Semeí Verdía Zepeda, commander of Community Police of Santa María de Ostula, municipality of Aquila, on grounds that there is insufficient evidence to hold him responsible for the killing of a hitman for The Knights Templar cartel during an ambush that the criminal organization set for him [Verdía] last May.
The Court’s decision has been translated as a hard setback for Michoacán State Prosecutor Martín Godoy Castro, who has repeatedly sought to keep Semeí Verdía in prison on charges of theft, injury and murder. Verdía has been acquitted [of all charges].
Last Wednesday a hearing was carried out in which Verdía’s legal defence team presented compelling evidence demonstrating his innocence. Today, Thursday, December 24, the judge ruled for Verdía Zepeda’s release (Court Order 358/2015-III).
The Judge of the Third Criminal Court warned that Semeí is free under legal reserves, i.e., State Prosecutor Martín Godoy will be able to charge the indigenous leader once again through a new preliminary investigation, if there is sufficient evidence to incriminate him.
Since 2014 Semeí Verdía has suffered three armed attacks by suspected members of The Knights Templar. Verdía has managed to emerge unscathed from all three.
On December 14, 2015, Verdía gave an interview to Proceso in which said he was sure that he would soon leave prison because he is innocent of the first-degree murder of Argel Mejía Valdovinos that occurred on May 25, 2015, during the ambush that he [Mejía Valdovinos] and five other individuals carried out against him [Verdía] on the coastal road of Aquila.
Translated by Jane Brundage
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