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From: "Dana Aldea" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> To: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> Subject: Universal,Harsh penalty for Atenco protesters,May 08 Date: Tue, 8 May 2007 19:10:14 +0200 Harsh penalty for protesters Human-rights activists and leftist leaders reacted with outrage Monday to 67-year prison sentences handed to three leaders of an uprising that swept through the rural community of San Salvador Atenco last year Wire services El Universal Martes 08 de mayo de 2007 Human-rights activists and leftist leaders reacted with outrage Monday to 67-year prison sentences handed to three leaders of an uprising that swept through the rural community of San Salvador Atenco last year. The three men were sentenced late Friday after being found guilty of kidnapping charges related to the disturbances that started in February 2006 and ended a few months later, in May. The protests turned violent May 3, 2006, when a group of flower vendors resisted a government order to vacate a local market. Five police officers, part of a large force sent to restore order, were kidnapped by community members and released, unharmed, after a few hours. The three defendants were charged with the earlier kidnapping of five state officials. The officials were held for two days in February 2006 as local activists and residents pressed the government to meet demands related to ongoing disputes involving land and government resources. Judge Blas Herna'ndez said there was sufficient evidence to prove that defendants Ignacio Del Valle, He'ctor Galindo and Felipe A'lvarez organized the kidnapping. An official inquiry into the conflict in San Salvador Atenco found that police in the state of Mexico had committed human-rights abuses in restoring order. The 207 protesters and others arrested included 26 women detainees who were sexually abused, according to a report by the nation's Human Rights Defense Commission. Two protesters were killed. State officials say some officers involved in the clashes received administrative punishments. However, none was relieved of duty and no criminal charges were brought against any officers. "Now we see that those who defend their rights deserve jail, while those who truly commit crimes deserve to be free," Trinidad Rami'rez, the wife of defendant Del Valle, said in a telephone interview. The three defendants' case became a cause celebre for the Mexican left. Leaders of the Democratic Revolution Party said the tough sentences showed that the government of President Felipe Caldero'n was hardening its stance against dissent. Some pointed out that even the most notorious drug cartel bosses rarely have received sentences longer than 20 years for their crimes. The most prominent defendant sentenced Friday was Del Valle, a leader of a community assembly in the town. Monday, Humberto Beni'tez, government secretary for the state of Mexico, rejected calls that the state government grant Del Valle and the other leaders amnesty. "We live according to a system of laws and institutions," Beni'tez told reporters in Toluca, the capital of Mexico state. "We don't consider it excessive. We consider it a correct sentence. ... And, yes, I consider Ignacio Del Valle a delinquent, because a judge found him to be so." Ba'rbara Zamora, an attorney for Del Valle, said her client was sentenced under new, strict anti-kidnapping laws designed to fight the wave of kidnappings for ransom that have swept through the country. She says the prosecution never presented evidence that Del Valle sought a ransom for the detained official. An additional 174 defendants still face charges connected to the protests. http://www.mexiconews.com.mx/miami/24526.html -- To unsubscribe from this list send a message containing the words unsubscribe chiapas95 (or chiapas95-lite, or chiapas95-english, or chiapas95-espanol) to [EMAIL PROTECTED] Previous messages are available from http://www.eco.utexas.edu/faculty/Cleaver/chiapas95.html or gopher to Texas, University of Texas at Austin, Department of Economics, Mailing Lists.