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New International Campaign to Demand Patishtán’s Freedom is Announced

** Lawyer criticizes the Court’s decision; there is still hope, he says
** The Tzotzil teacher himself calls for the mobilization by telephone
By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, March 20, 2013
“The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN, its initials in Spanish) was not expecting the reaction of social outrage generated by its refusal to hear the case of Alberto Patishtán Gómez,” said his lawyer Leonel Rivero Rodríguez today. The Court “lied cleverly” to justify its verdict, which happens “very infrequently”. Besides the “obvious fact that he is innocent,” he added, during the press conference in which the new international campaign to demand the release of the Tzotzil teacher was announced.
Colectivo Ik, which accompanies political prisoners of conscience, emphasized in its contribution that “the Governor, Manuel Velasco Coello, the Bishop of San Cristóbal, Felipe Arizmendi, and the EZLN through Subcomandante Marcos all support his release, as well as the whole social movement in the municipality of El Bosque,” including people from different [political] parties, and all the churches with a presence there (Catholics, Presbyterians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Evangelicals, Pentecostals). “Have we ever before seen an agreement like this among such dissimilar voices?”

“Meanwhile there is no controversy, no sector is opposed to his release or doubts his innocence,” Rivero Rodríguez pointed out.
From prison number five, linked by telephone, Patishtán himself called for “a new phase of protests” from today until April 17, at Mexican embassies and consulates abroad, at the same time as those carried out in El Bosque, Tuxtla Gutiérrez and Mexico City by the indigenous movement from his municipality, which has spent 12 years demanding  his freedom and being treated with contempt time after time.  Today a protest took place outside the embassy in London, he announced.[i]

“Despite this new blow of injustice, I will never willingly give up or take a rest from seeking justice and freedom.” In his call he included collectives, churches, students, workers, communities, and also demanded the freedom of his compañeros in Solidarity with the Voice of El Amate.

A prisoner for twelve years, accused of murdering seven police in an ambush in June 2000, once he had been sentenced the issue was never again investigated, which supposes that it was really decided before closing the case, over which a suspicious veil of mystery and oblivion would fall. Or at least that’s what they told those who were charged with keeping Patishtán locked up in five different prisons, including a high-security one in Sinaloa.

Professor Martín Ramírez, spokesperson for the citizen’s movement of El Bosque, stated: “If they had ratified the San Andrés Accords, which the government signed with the EZLN, Patishtán would be free, because there would be better justice for the indigenous. We do not understand why they continue the same practices of 200 years ago. We are in the 21st Century and they continue with torture and contempt, like the SCJN just did. Alberto is a political prisoner for fighting for the citizens”, and publicly denouncing the corruption of the PRI municipal council of El Bosque at that time. “Or is it a crime to be against injustice?” he asked.

Rivero Rodríguez explained his interpretation of the SCJN’s explicit disinterest in the request to take up the case [on its merits]: “It just decided not to resume [its jurisdiction in the case]; it did not reject the petition. It was a split decision from the judges.” The Court “wasn’t up to the challenge” posed by a bold appeal.” As one of the ministers who voted against would say, “it’s not up to the SCJN to open Pandora’s box.”

However, there are chances that justice can be done, Rivero admitted. “The case record must go to the First Collegiate Tribunal (in Tuxtla Gutiérrez), which will decide whether we are right. What was evidence 10 years ago, when he was sentenced, since 2009 is evidence no longer, the proceedings were reinterpreted and now that ‘evidence’ is illegal.”

He even speculated on other alternatives besides the decision of the first tribunal (“that could take some days if the will exists”), like a presidential pardon. With respect to this, he said, “we are not able to pronounce (ask for a pardon) because to do so would be admitting guilt, and we will not do that, but it lies with the President of the Republic, who can do this unilaterally without exceeding his powers or violating the Constitution.”

Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada
Thursday, March 21, 2013

English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee for the: International Zapatista Translation Service, a collaboration of the: Chiapas Support Committee, California, Wellington Zapatista Support Group, UK Zapatista Solidarity Network

[i] Although a demonstration at the London Embassy was announced at the press conference, this has not yet taken place.

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