Crime & Justice

Chilean Mapuche leader ordered into pretrial detention

Santiago, Aug 25 (EFE).- A Temuco Court on Thursday accused Mapuche leader Héctor Llaitul of violent usurpation, incitement to the destruction of private facilities and theft of wood worth almost 90 million pesos ($100,000) and ordered him to remain in pretrial detention.

At the opening of the hearing, the prosecution said his arrest was based on the brief presented by the regional prosecutor Roberto Garrido which included five alleged crimes, three of them linked to the State Security Law.

Others concern the usurpation and attack on authority in February 2021 at the San Sebastián property in Victoria and usurpation, theft of wood and attack on authority in the Cautín forestry on Mar. 12, 2021.

He said that the arrest warrant included “background information that accounts for the crime and participation through witness statements, expert evidence, telephone interceptions, photographs and ballistic expert evidence in some cases.”

Llaitul’s lawyer Rodrigo Román requested to declare his client’s detention illegal, a demand that was dismissed by magistrate Leticia Rivera Reyes.

Outside, some 20 Mapuche leaders gathered to support Llaitul, the spokesperson of the Arauco-Malleco Coordinator (CAM), one of the militant Mapuche groups fighting for autonomy for the Mapuche people.

Among them was another of the representatives of this organization, Rafael Pichun, who insisted that the arrest of his partner was a “political action.”

Leader (lonko) Juana Calfunao described the arrest as unjust and the forestry companies and landowners in the region as terrorists, and assured that they would defend Llaitul “until the last consequences” and said the action taken by the government is “tremendously unfair.”

Llaitul’s arrest took place Wednesday in a restaurant in the southern town of Cañete amid an upsurge in sabotage in the south and just 15 days before the crucial mandatory plebiscite in which Chileans must decide whether to approve or reject the Constitution, which would replace the one drafted in 1980 by the dictatorship.

The Chilean regions of Araucanía, Los Lagos and Bio Bio are scenes of a bitter ancestral conflicts between settlers, landowners, the Chilean state, communities of the original Mapuche people and international forestry companies dedicated to the exploitation of wood in a region of ancient forests. EFE


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