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Activist Accused of Affecting Canadian Company Freed in Chiapas

August 27, 2009

Activist Accused of Affecting Canadian Company Freed in Chiapas

by Isain Mandujano, published on Proceso.com.mx

Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, August 26th. - After eight days of detention, the State Judicial system's Attorney General's Office (PGJE, for its Spanish acronym) freed activist Mariano Abarca Roblero, who was accused by Canadian corporation Blackfire Exploration Ltd of affecting the company's economic interests, due to the highway blockades led by Abarca Roblero.

According to the court document #033/FS10/2009 in the case taken up by the State Attorney for Relevant Issues of the PGJE, Abarca Roblero was accused of attacks against public roadways, criminal association, organized criminal activity, offences against the peace and the physical and public integrity of the collective and of the State.

Mariano Abarca was detained on August 17th by state police agents when he was leaving a primary school, where he left a letter requesting permission for the school premises to be used this weekend for the second national gathering of the Mexican Network of those Affected by Mining (Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Mineria, REMA).

According to his lawyer, Miguel Angel de los Santos Cruz, the police were supposedly in possession of an "order to appear," which they never revealed.

"In theory, this order does not imply detention. However, when he was taken to the State Attorney's office and gave his declaration, his detention was ordered immediately thereafter. Because detention only permits the judicial system to hold someone for 48 hours, the order was requested for 30 days," he said.

De los Santos added that Abarca was detained for eight days in the PGJE detention center.

Abarca Roblero was legally accused of damages to the tune of 120 thousand pesos, the amount that the Blackfire Exploration Mexico company supposedly suffered, when their trucks could not travel past the blockade that protesters organized two months ago.

The Canadian company argued that because of the blockade, the company could not transport any minerals to the processing facilities.

De los Santos Cruz said that at the time of Abarca Roblero's detention, the accusing parties - company executives - had not even demonstrated their identity as such, nor the damages caused.

"There was no legal justification for his arrest and detention. Preliminary investigation began on June 12th, two days after the blockade, and was only just beginning to come together. The investigation had not advanced," he added.

He stated that Abarca was freed last night, due to the lack of evidence against him. "In fact, there never was any," he added.

When Mariano Abarca Roblero was freed from detention, his brother Uriel Abarca Roblero, his son José Luis Abarca, and his lawyer de los Santos Cruz were there to greet him.

Amnesty International (AI) requested that everyone who acted in solidarity with Abarca Roblero stay up to date on the activist's situation, "especially in case there are acts of threats or persecution against him."

The letter was sent by Lisa Maracani from the Mexico Team of the AI International Secretariat in London.

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[translated by Sandra Cuffe]

[originally published: http://www.proceso.com.mx/noticias_articulo.php?articulo=71786]

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