On June 30th, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation ordered the immediate release of the 12 members of the Front of Peoples in Defense of the Land of Atenco, who faced sentences of 31 to 112 years in prison, and had been taken into custody by police in May of 2006 during the protests against the displacement of flower vendors in the state of Mexico.
The decision of the court was made finding that the Attorney General of the State of Mexico (PGJEM) brought charges against the detainees stemming from shaky and false premises. Prosecutors also used illegal evidence to impute the crime of kidnapping. Additionally, the minister Juan Silva Meza affirmed that the sentences could have been “a form of institutional makeup to criminalize social protest, a way to punish the opposition”.
In the case of nine of the people from Atenco held in the Molino de Las Flores state prison, with lesser penalties, the release was immediate. On the other hand, in the case of the three leaders held in the federal prison of Altiplano, by the 1st of July, the federal Secretary of Public Security (SSP) stated that Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Álvarez y Héctor Galindo, will remain in prison facing still four more criminal proceedings for the crimes of aggravated robbery, injury and damage to public property, looting, and attacks on roads and transportation.
Finally they were liberated and arrived in Atenco on July 2nd, where some 500 people were awaiting their arrival, accompanied by the other newly released members of the FPDT who had been liberated on the 30th. The daughter of Ignacio del Valle, América del Valle – who just last June 24 left for the Embassy of Venezuela to seek political asylum from the two arrest warrants against her for the same offense in 2006 – did not attend.
The Governor, Enrique Peña Nieto, said that his administration will have “absolute respect” for the resolution of the court to liberate the prisoners of Atenco. In an interview afterward, he rejected that it was a setback for his government and added that the interest “was none other than the restoration of order and peace… and therefore, the sanctions against those who participated in terms of the law and in conformity with the law acted, and under the law was passed.”
Furthermore, Amnesty International (AI) demanded a thorough investigation into the officials involved in the investigations related to the Atenco case, to be in accordance with the decision of the Court, who improperly used the justice system and thus caused the violation of due process for the 12 detainees at those events.
For more information (in Spanish):
12 Atenco prisoners released (La Jornada, 1 July)
Court orders liberty for Atenco prisoners (El Universal, 2 July)
SSP: three Atenco leaders will continue imprisoned (Proceso, 1 July)
AI demands punishment of functionaries for Atenco case (Proceso, 1 July)
Released leaders of the FPDT are received in Atenco (La Jornada, 2 July)
For more information from SIPAZ (in English):
Mexico City: Second Phase of Our Prisoners First campaign launched (13 May 2010)
Atenco: repression in San Salvador Atenco, 4 years on (11 May 2010)