Guerrero – Briefs: PGJE denigrates the killing of Lorenzo Fernandez; NGOs continue to pressure for the release of Raul Hernández

Two years and five months after the murder of Lorenzo Fernández Ortega, brother of Inés Fernández Ortega, who was raped by soldiers in 2002, the Attorney General of the State of Guerrero (PGJE) has presented a homicide suspect. The PGJE has concluded that the killing resulted from a conflict that arose during a drinking binge.

The defense has argued that on February 9, 2008, Lorenzo was subject to enforced disappearance.  A day later, he was found dead – with his body showing visible signs of torture – in the river that runs through the city of Ayutla. Lorenzo was a member of the Organization of the Me’phaa Indigenous People (OPIM) and played an important role in defending human rights of indigenous people from their region. He actively campaigned to denounce the acts carried out against his sister, Inés Fernández, and supported the denunciations in the case brought before the Commission for the Defense of Human Rights (CODDEHUM) concerning the 14 indigenous women of El Camalote who were forcibly sterilized by the Ministry of Health in 1998.

In a July 5th communiqué, the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights, the Guerrero Network of Human-Rights Organizations (Red Guerrerense), and OPIM denounced that Tlachinollan, as collaborator in the case, only had a limited access to the advances of the investigation and that the conclusion that the homocide had been the result of a drinking binge denigrates Lorenzo Fernandez as a defender of human rights.

On the same day, Amnesty International (AI) released an Urgent Action demanding the immediate release of political prisoner Raúl Hernández, a member of OPIM.  He was detained on April 17, 2008 and accused of the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García, committed on January 1, 2008. On June 30, 2010, the judge presiding over the trial of this defender of human rights and indigenous peoples closed the evidentiary phase of his trial for murder. The crime-scene investigation conducted by the judge confirmed that the statements of witnesses who claimed that Raul Hernandez was present at the time of the murder were unreliable. AI called on civil society to demand the release of Hernandez from the PGJE in a letter to be sent before August 14, 2010. (See Urgent Action below).

Finally, on July 6th, the Solicitor’s International Human Rights Group (SIHRG) published a report regarding the situation of Raúl Hernández. In the report, the organization emphasized that the incarceration of Hernández was based on lies and that there exists no evidence of his participation in the criminal acts for which he has been accused. The SIHRG expressed profound worry over the case of Hernández and claimed it to be willing to take further measures to protect the human-rights defender.

For more information (in Spanish):

Joint communiqué by Tlachinollan, the Guerrero Network, and OPIM (5 July)

Amnesty International campaign for the release of Raúl Hernández

Amnesty International Urgent Action: Key moment in the trial for murder of activist (5 July)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: Briefs–CECOP receive precautionary measures; Report on human rights; Civil society organizations continue asking for the liberation of Raúl Hernández (5 July 2010)

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