Charges against Suchitoto 13 reduced

On Friday, February 8, the prosecutor in the case of the "Suchitoto 13" announced that the charges of terrorism were being reduced to charges of "public disorder." The case arises out of demonstrations against President Saca's water policy in the town of Suchitoto on July 2, 2007. Thirteen people, including leaders of CRIPDES, a Salvadoran NGO, were arrested and charged with committing acts prohibited by El Salvador's Anti-Terrorism law.

A couple of comments about this development. With respect to some of the activities shown on video from that day in the Suchitoto area, "public disorder" could appear to be an appropriate charge. Throwing stones at police, tire burning to block public roads, are activities for which a government can legitimately make arrests. However, it is not clear that any of the persons arrested were the stone throwers or the tire burners. I have never seen a listing of specifically what each detained person was accused of doing. (If anyone has such a list, please send me a copy). It is clear that the leaders of CRIPDES, who were arrested some distance from the protests as shown on this video, were not engaged in those activities, and it is difficult to interpret their arrests as anything other than an attempt to stifle lawful legitimate protests. For them, even the reduced charge of public disorder is wrong.

Equally important, there has never been any indication that anyone in the police or government will be investigated, much less punished, for the serious allegations of excessive government force and mistreatment of those arrested on that day in July.


Hodad said…
thank God this Nazi crap will change soon, with Funes as here in US with Obama
saca de caca bush narco buddy, bush family, financier of Hitler,EXXON and everyone else greedy in the world

eliminate the military
then everyone else on this planet, will chill
real simple

see 60 minutes tonite on Denmark
Bosque said…
wow. protesting is now a 'terrorist' activity. I can see arresting people who have thrown rocks for public nuisance but I think El Sal is getting way out of hand.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said…
ya saca jumpin on the coatails of bush' anti terrorism policies and exploiting them for own extreme right agenda. Throwing a "Tetunte in Suchitoto a terrorist ACT! OMG!~ SEND THEM TO NEJAPA ON AUGUST 31st!-Tim you have got to document the bolas de fuego TERRORISTIC CULTURAL HERITAGE CELEBRATION! A kick in the pants! WOOT!
Anonymous said…
The case of the Suchitoto 13 and the Citizens Not Terrorists campaign achieved a major victory today.

This February 19th at an Initial Hearing scheduled in Suchitoto under the new accusations of “Public Disorder” and “Aggravated Damages,” the Judge dropped all charges and set the 14 defendants free!

Preliminary reports describe that the Attorney General's office neglected to present official accusations and sufficient evidence, and district attorneys were not present at the hearing on time. The Judge then decided to waive the charges, and decree “definitive liberty” for the defendants.

This hearing was scheduled after Special Tribunal Judge Ana Lucila Fuentes de Paz recused herself of February 11th and declared the Special Tribunal incompetent to hear the case, as the Building was surrounded by hundreds of community members who had marched over the previous 3 days from the city of Suchitoto. (More information, photos and video of the march here.) Judge Fuentes de Paz’s resolution sent the case back to the conventional court system in Suchitoto, and the local Judge scheduled the initial hearing.

Sister Cities member, Meredith DeFrancesco, was inside the courthouse this morning as an accredited journalist. She describes the scene at the courthouse:

“The building was surrounded with people from the communities holding candles and photos of the 14 defendants. There was a dark and tense moment inside the courthouse as the Judge called each one of the defendants by name, and they each stood awaiting the resolution. When the Judge said that all charges were being dropped, the tense moment collapsed and the whole room spontaneously erupted. Another large group of people from organizations and rural communities was gathered in the park in Suchitoto, celebrating the verdict.”

This is a major victory for the Suchitoto 13, for the CRIPDES communities and national organization, for the Salvadoran social movement, and international solidarity. Rosa Valle, Vice-President of CRIPDES told us that “this is proof that our organizing work gets results and has great power. The Government responded to our organizing with repression, and now they must recognize their mistake, as they see communities and leaders around the world uniting their voices with the strength of the Salvadoran people to call for justice, dignity, and our own human rights.”

Thank you for all your work and continued attention, support, and action that has been so important over the last 7 months. Please stay tuned for a more in-depth report in the coming hours that will orient our continuing work and strategy to stand with our brothers and sisters in El Salvador to defend human rights!

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