THEY SEND 3 INDIGENOUS TZELTALS TO PRISON ON FALSE CHARGES IN CHILON
By: Hermann Bellinghausen
The Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba), as well as the Tzeltal ejido owners of San Sebastián Bachajón, Chiapas, denounced the detention, torture and incarceration 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 of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandón Jungle.”
The organism says that on September 16, towards 4 o’clock in the morning, some 40 police arrested the 3 men while they were heading home. “Beginning at 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) in Ocosingo, they were beaten in the presence of Rodolfo Manuel Gómez Gutiérrez, an MP agent. “They provoked asphyxia in Mario with a plastic bag and punched him in the head with the palms of their hand, insisting that he confess with respect to the firearm and incriminate himself about having shot and injured a police agent.”
The indigenous were obliged to put their fingerprint on a statement that they didn’t read to them. The 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. “Upon rendering their preparatory statement before Judge Omar Heredia, they achieved that he would take judicial notice of their injuries, assigning it to the MP’s attorney to initiate corresponding investigations for probable acts of torture, supporting them within the State Law for Preventing and Sanctioning Torture.” The Frayba questions the behavior of the Chilón municipal police and the MP’s office in Ocosingo “for the use of torture as a method of police investigation.”
The organism asks the state’s Attorney General of Justice to investigate the behavior of the police agents and of agent Gómez Gutiérrez of the MP “for the crime of torture, codified in the Chiapas Penal Code.” Besides, it warns, “the judge that is familiar with the cause of action 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 injured. Juan Antonio, Roberto and Mario were at the festivities and were walking to their homes when they arrested and accused them of shooting the injured police agent, Alfredo Bernabé Aguilar Fuentes.
The Tzeltal ejido owners point out that the apprehension and torture of their compañeros were carried out on orders from municipal commander Francisco Sanchez Guzmán. Not any official agency recognized having the detainees for several hours. 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 let family members pass, not the community authorities.” The MP tortured them; 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 neighbor of Sebastián Méndez Hernández, currently a prisoner because of 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 revenge for seeking those responsible for the murder of our compañero.”
The ejido owners also demand the freedom of Santiago Moreno López and Esteban Gómez Jiménez, incarcerated at Playas de Catazajá (since 2009 and 2013, respectively) with false charges, as part of the constant persecution that the ejido owners suffer.
. The local Public Ministry is similar to a local District Attorney’s office.
Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Translation: Chiapas Support Committee
Thursday, September 25, 2014