Mexico: Free the Atenco Prisoners

June 29, 2010

Demonstrations are taking place in cities throughout the world because the Supreme Court of Justice of the Mexican nation (SCJN) is meeting to decide the future of 12 political prisoners from the small Mexican town of San Salvador Atenco who are currently serving sentences of up to 112 years.

On the 3rd and 4th of May of 2006, in one of the worst cases of police brutality in recent Mexican history, more than 3,500 agents of the Mexican security services attacked the population of San Salvador Atenco. The attack began when the people organised to stop the violent expulsion of flower vendors from a central square in nearby Texcoco, near Mexico City.

During this attack the police and military forces killed two youths, Alexis Benhumea and Francisco Javier Cortes. 207 people were arrested, many of whom were tortured, dozens of homes were invaded without warrants, and hundreds of people were tear-gassed and beaten. Amnesty International has detailed and condemned the horrific systematic rape and sexual assault of 26 women by the police at this time; many of these attacks occurred while the women were being transported to prison.

It is widely believed that irregularities in the legal process denied the prisoners the right to a fair trial. For example, the principle of the presumption of innocence and the guarantees of due process were not respected, and the evidence on which the convictions were founded was illegally obtained. Continue reading