Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Citizens Not Terrorists: Free the Suchitoto 13 Update September 21, 2008

The Suchitoto 13 have continued to organize for freedom and economic justice despite the ongoing case against them. Still charged with Acts of Terrorism and Injuries, and facing up to 60 years in jail, Lorena, Rosa, Haydeé, Manuel, and the rest of the accused have been continuing their work, as well as making sure to comply with the terms of their provisional liberty, including showing up at the Special Tribunal every 2 weeks.

Following the original decree of 3 months preventative detention, Judge Ana Lucila Fuentes de Paz had set a September 28th deadline for the prosecution to present its evidence. After this September 28th date, Judge Fuentes de Paz would then set a court date within the following 30 days.

The Prosecution Requests an Extension:

Just this week, we have received news that the Attorney General's Office, through Judge Fuentes de Paz has solicited a 6 month extension for the deadline to present evidence, which would effectively move the projected court date well into next year. The prosecution cites the complexity of the case, saying that it has solicited information from various public institutions and has yet to carry out a quantity of interviews. Judge Fuentes has accepted the request for an extension, and now formally the Judges of the Special Tribunal, Lic. Sandra Chicas and Lic. Gloria Lizama, must rule on the request or grant a lesser extension.

CRIPDES, the MPR-12 and the Committee of Family Members of Political Prisoners, along with the accused themselves, coincide in concluding that this request for an extension is a clear indicator that the prosecution has thus far been unable to collect substantial evidence against the defendants, and a sign of the political intentions behind the case, obliging the defendants to continue to carry out the terms of their provisional liberty, and live with the fear of a steep jail sentence.

Upon the news of the extension request, CRIPDES, the MPR-12 and the Committee of Family Members of Political Prisoners began a demonstration and a fast for 48 hours in front of the Legislative Assembly and Supreme Court buildings. The defense lawyers are still waiting for the Supreme Court to rule on a motion of Habeas Corpus as well as an appeal to declare unconstitutional the Special Law Against Acts of Terrorism, and the Law against Organized Crime. Dr. Agustín García Calderón, the President of the Supreme Court, declined to meet with the fasters.

Journalist Assassinated:

The morning of September 20th, as he was leaving his home the journalist Salvador Sánchez was brutally assassinated. Sánchez worked as a reporter for Mayavision Radio, the YSUCA Radio and the Radio Cadena "Mi Gente".

Salvador Sánchez had been one of the journalists that had given the most direct and honest coverage of the events leading up to and following the arrest of the Suchitoto 13, and had been in direct contact with leaders from CRIPDES and the Committee of Family Members of Political Prisoners. Officials have alluded to personal enemies and delinquency as the possible explanations of Sanchez's assassination, though the Director of the Natinal Civilian Police Force (PNC) also said Sanchez had received death threats. Social movement leaders are worried that political motives may hide behind the high levels of crime and violence prevalent in Salvadoran society. In an official statement the MPR-12 maintains that they "do not discard the idea that the recent [assassination] may be linked to the journalistic work... that Salvador Sánchez carried out." Salvadoran organizations are demanding that the Attorney General and the National Civilian Police force (PNC) carry out an in depth investigation into the killing of Salvador Sánchez.

Take a minute and read these statements from the Committee of Family Members of Political Prisoners in El Salvador, and the statement from the Popular Resistance Movements October 12th, MPR-12. Highly recommended!

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