Thursday, November 27, 2008

"I Didn't Kill Brad Will": An Interview with Juan Manuel Martinez

The man who supposedly murdered the US videographer agrees that he participated in the APPO protests, but he maintains that he never met the journalist.

by Diego Enrique Osorno, Mileno
translation by Kristin Bricker

"I didn't kill Brad Will," says Juan Manuel Martinez, the young man the Federal Attorney General's Office officially accused three weeks ago of allegedly murdering the US Indymedia videographer.

"It doesn't matter how much they pressure me; I'll never agree to the lie that they want me to agree to. I never even had the privilege of meeting him (Brad) and I wasn't even in the place where they killed him," he reiterates from the Santa Maria Ixcotel Penitentiary in Oaxaca where he awaits the final evaluation of his case by Rosa Iliana Noriega, 5th district judge.

"God willing, the judge won't be biased, as often happens in Oaxaca, because the government orders them to be," stressed Martinez.

"They're telling all lies. There are a number of people who saw me that day in another place; I was not in the street where what happened happened. There isn't even one video or photo of me in which I am there when they shot at Brad. I don't know how they can get away with this injustice if it's very clear that it's all lies. Like my lawyer says, I am the scapegoat."

Before being imprisoned, Juan Manuel worked in the Santa Lucia del Camino city council as an assistant in a regent's office. "In the District Attorney's office they read me the statements and the only person who is accusing me is the mayor's cousin--the same mayor who is accused of sending gunmen to shoot that day," he states.

"Furthermore, the man that is accusing me (Alfredo Feria) says that he knew I was the killer because that's what a voice said--that's how it's written in his statement--that a voice told him that I was the assassin!"

The alleged murderer of Brad was born in Santa Lucia del Camino, a suburb of Oaxaca, where he lived with his wife and three children in a 2 x 4 meter room in his mother's house.

Why do you think they detained you?
The United States government wanted them to detain someone for Brad's death and the Mexican government wants to protect the real assassins, but I don't know why they're using me as a scapegoat. It's probably because I don't belong to an organization and I don't know anybody; they thought that no one was going to stick up for me, but, thank God, many human rights organizations are doing just that."

You aren't a member of the Popular Indigenous Council of Oaxaca [CIPO in its Spanish initials]?
When they detained me, the agents told me: "you are a CIPO jerk," but I'm not even a member of that organization. I was an APPO supporter, like many people in Oaxaca, because of the poverty we live in and the injustice.

Did you participate in the protests?
Yes, but I'm not the person they say I am; I wasn't near where the homicide was committed.

Where were you that day?
I sell comforters and bedspreads...I'm also a baker. You know what it's like in Oaxaca, you've got to look for work everywhere. I had gone out that day to sell comforters in Santa Lucia del Camino, because I'm from there--and that's apparently scandalous--but I wasn't there when they shot Brad.

Everything they're saying in the supposed investigation they're doing is all lies. They say that I used a number of vehicles when I don't even have a bicycle; they say I have a gold Golf, a black Golf, and other vehicles; they say that I'm a person that has money, but anyone who investigates will realize that I have three children and a wife and we're living in a really small room that they're loaning to us.

What other accusations have they made during your hearings in the District Attorney's office?
They say I have straight hair, but my hair is wavy, and things like that that don't make sense, because the person that's accusing me is a relative of the man that's being accused of having killed Brad.

Did you know Brad Will?
It would have been an honor to meet him, but I didn't know him. I participated in the protests like thousands of Oaxacans who suffer from injustice. In Oaxaca injustice is so shameless and and cynical that the police and the politicians do whatever they want. There isn't any help for the people. There are more places to get high or be an alcoholic than there are where you can play sports. It's what there is.

What do you have to say to Brad's family?
I ask that Brad Will's family please demand that the United States government demand that the Mexican government detain the true killers. Sometimes I get scared because the President is covering for the governor of Oaxaca, who is covering for those responsible for the homicide, but I have to do it.

According to the PGR [Federal Attorney General's office], this is an investigation made up of intelligence, but there's lie after lie. I also want to say that I fear for my family's lives, that they want to do something to them; I want to hold the federal government responsible for whatever might happen to my family.

Did they beat you during your detention?
No, they didn't beat me.

How were you detained?
First, at the end of September I was stopped by federal agents. I was walking down Calicanto when two men--whom I now know were agents--stopped me and asked me, "Are you Gabriel Meza?" What I told them is that I wasn't him. So they asked me my name and one grabbed my back and told me to give them my telephone. I gave it to them and they leave, telling me that they're going to get in touch with me.

I got to my house and I told my mom that two police had stopped me and then days later, during my sports work in Santa Lucia del Camino, the same people detained me. They were driving a Chevy Monza, and they told me that I had to go with him. I told them that if they were cops they needed to show me an arrest warrant, and they told me they weren't going to show me anything.

So they put me in the car and we went to the Attorney General's Office, and the government building where the preventive police are. I asked them where they were taking me, and if they were going to kill me, and that they should at least give me the right to make a phone call. "You don't have the right to shit," they told me. Later we arrived at San Bartolo Coyotepec, where the PGR is.

What happened in the PGR?
They weren't telling me anything about why they had detained me. A person arrived and asked me what organization I belonged to. I told him that I didn't belong to any organization. "Don't be an asshole, tell me what you know," he responded and later said, "Look, son of a fucking bitch, I'm going to leave for a bit and you think about what you're going to tell me, because when I get back you don't know what's going to happen to you."

I told him, "You can leave for an hour, two hours, a day, and I'm going to tell you the same thing."

He responded, "Don't be an asshole, son of a fucking bitch, but if you don't tell me, I'm going to fuck you up to get it out of you."
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