Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mexico Grants Appeal to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno in Brad Will Murder Case

The APPO activist accused of murdering the US Indymedia journalist remains in jail despite his "unconstitutional" imprisonment

by Pedro Matias, Noticias de Oaxaca
translated by Kristin Bricker

The Federal Judiciary granted an injunction to Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno, accused of murdering US journalist Bradley Roland Will because the 5th District Judge, Rosa Ileana Noriega Perez, weighed the multiple irregularities in the case and rejected his imprisonment pending trial as unconstitutional.

However, she failed to resolve the case and sent the case back to the 4th Criminal Judge so that s/he "corrects" its deficiencies because the imprisonment pending trial, ordered on October 22, 2008, violates guarantees of judicial security and legality.

The judicial commission of Section 22 of the SNTE [the National Union of Education Workers], the November 25 Liberation Committee, the Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Human Rights Center, and Comuna-Oaxaca decried the decision, reiterating that "the Mexican State is holding him hostage in order to assure the US government that it is carrying out investigations to clear up the murder of journalist Brad Will that was committed on October 27, 2006."

In response to the decision, the representative of the teachers union's judicial commission in Oaxaca, Gustavo Tomas Hernandez Cruz, stated that not only would the union take Juan Manuel's case to the negotiation table it reinitiated with the Ministry of the Interior, it would also launch a series of actions to demand his freedom. According to information published in the Federal Judiciary's official web page, the 5th District Judge, Rosa Ileana Noriega Perez, issued her ruling this past Monday, January 19, in which she grants the appeal so that the 4th Criminal Judge will establish grounds and cause for the decision he issued against Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno on October 22, 2008.

This means that the federal judge "has washed her hands" of the case and has sent it back to the state court to study and issue a new decision that rectifies its ruling in which it ordered imprisonment pending trial for Martinez Moreno, and if it cannot do so, it should order that he be freed, said lawyer Gilberto Lopez Jimenez, who is defending the accused.

What is certain, he said, is that with this unexpected ruling, the only thing that is achieved is that Juan Manuel remains imprisoned in the state jail because the time period for a decision in the case has been extended.

Now, he explains, they will need to wait 10 business days for the Federal Attorney General's Office (PGR) to contest the ruling, and if it does so, one, two, or three months will pass before the Collegiate Court studies the grievances and issues a ruling.

If the PGR does not contest within 15 days, the 4th Criminal Judge must comply with the federal judge's decision; that is, s/he can confirm the ruling of imprisonment pending trial.

The lawyer considers this decision to be "a legal ruse" that the Mexican State is using and that it involves "the PGR, the Oaxaca Judiciary, and the Federal Supreme Court, to keep Juan Manuel imprisoned as a political prisoner."

He stressed that this decision should serve to motivate the Section 22 and the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca to pressure the Federal Supreme Court to issue an impartial report about the social movement in 2006 because "the Federal Judiciary no longer guarantees justice in Mexico, and above all, in Oaxaca."

At the same time, lawyer Alba Cruz Ramos of the November 25 liberation committee stressed that the 5th District Judge indicated in her decision that the order to imprison pending trial "violates the guarantee of judicial security and legality established in Article 16 of the Constitution."

This is because the order to imprison pending trial, says the judge, is based on six pieces of evidence: the testimony of Alfredo Feria Perez[1], Miriam Alicia Montaño[2], and Carol Ivan[3]; in the April 9, 2008, audio and video report and in the March 18, 2008, criminal report, both issued by the PGR; as well as Televisa videos and photographs taken by journalists who were at the scene of the crime.

Translator's notes:

1. According to journalist John Gibler, "Adolfo Feria is the cousin of the mayor of Santa Lucia del Camino [where Will was murdered], Manuel Martinez Feria, whose police and city officials led the armed attack on the APPO protesters." The Oaxacan Popular Indigenous Council (CIPO) reports that Adolfo is Manuel's nephew and that he was a cop while his uncle was mayor.

2. The CIPO alleges that Miriam Alicia Montaño is active in the Party of the Institutional Revolution (PRI), the party of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, the man the 2006 uprising attempted to overthrow.

3. Carol Ivan is a Televisa correspondent. Televisa was notoriously biased in favor of Gov. Ulises Ruiz Ortiz and against the APPO.

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