San Cristobal de Las Casas, Mexico, Jun 4 (EFE).- Around 100 people, including Catholic clergy and community leaders, protested Saturday outside a prison in this southern Mexican city to demand the release of five Tzeltal indigenous men “unjustly” accused of homicide.
Manuel Santiz Cruz, head of the Human Rights Committee in the town of San Juan Cancuc, and four other Tzeltal men have been held for the last four days at the Cerss 5 facility in San Cristobal de las Casas.
Family members and friends of the detainees were joined by neighbors, priests, and activists and the group marched around the prison singing songs of peace
An attorney with the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Human Rights Center, Jorge Hernandez, said that authorities have no offered no evidence against the five men in custody.
“They did not commit the murder of Antonio Aguilar Perez, municipal police officer in San Juan Cancuc, as there is no evidence and the prosecutors cannot even prove that that person died,” the lawyer told Efe.
“All of the power of the state is against them. We will request a change of judge because we have no confidence in his independence and impartiality, as we have already noticed that he favors the prosecution,” Hernandez said.
The case has aroused indignation beyond the borders of Mexico.
Front Line Defenders, a human rights organization based in Ireland, said that what it described as the “arbitrary arrests” seemed to be “part of a broader strategy to repress communities working peacefully for the recognition of their rights.”
The Catholic vicar of San Juan Cancuc, the Rev. Jose Luis Vargas, suggested that the men were arrested because of their involvement in resistance to a road-building project that would see them lose “what little land they have.” EFE