Friday, October 17, 2008

Oaxacan Activists Arrested for the Murder of Brad Will

Mexican federal police arrested five Oaxacan activists on Thursday afternoon. At least two were arrested for supposedly murdering US citizen and Indymedia journalist Brad Will on October 27, 2006.

Brad Will was assassinated while reporting and filming the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca. Multiple witnesses say he was shot by paramilitaries who are seen in photos shooting towards Will. The paramilitaries are: Juan Carlo Soriano, municipal police officer; Manuel Aguilar, council personnel chief; Able Santiago Zarate; and Pedro Carmona, mayor of Felipe Carrillo Puerto de Santa Lucia del Camino.

Brad Will shooters

The government claims that Will was shot at close range, therefore implicating the APPO activists around him. To prove this claim, the government at one point stated that the autopsy found powder burns on Will's body consistent with a close-range shooting. However, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy contradicted this claim, saying he did not find powder burns on Will's body.

The man the government accuses of being the intelectual author of Will's murder is Juan Manuel Martínez Moreno. Martínez Moreno has supported the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO in its Spanish initials). Martínez Moreno made headlines in 2007 when he was kidnapped along with two other APPO members while performing election observation in Santa Lucía del Camino, where Will was murdered in October 2006. The kidnappers beat the three APPOistas severely in the face and abdomen under a bridge and then dumped them in a community 38 kilometers from Oaxaca City.

Police also acknowledged arresting Octavio Perez Perez for covering up the crime. Perez participated in the 2006 uprising in Oaxaca.

The Angry White Kid blog reports that three other activists have been arrested: Lirio Lopez, Miguel Lopez, and Guadalupe (last name unknown). It is unknown if these activists are also accused of Will's murder or if the arrests are part of a larger crackdown on dissent in Oaxaca.

According to Angry White Kid: "Activists here first learned of the detention of Juan and joined his family this evening at the Penitenciaria Central de Santa Maria Ixcotel, Oaxaca. Juan's mother and wife have not been allowed in to see him. Later it was learned four others had been detained. A planton is planned at the Ixcotel penal beginning at 9am on Friday."

APPO activists and members of the Indigenous Popular Council of Oaxaca (CIPO) say the government is blaming activists for Will's murder in order to cover up its own involvement in the crime.

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