Guapinol: Jeremías Martínez, in detention 26 months, faces trial this week
This week: Jeremías Martínez, criminalized by Los Pinares mining company and the Public Prosecutor's Office of Tocoa for defending the Guapinol and San Pedro rivers in Carlos Escaleras National Park, faces trial.
Monday, February 22nd - Thursday, February 25th
Courtroom 1, National Jurisdiction Sentencing Tribunal
Supreme Court of Justice, Tegucigalpa
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Jeremías Martínez, a 60-year-old peasant leader, was captured in Tocoa in November 2018 and faced his judicial process before National Jurisdiction Judge Carlos Irías De León in San Pedro Sula, who issued a formal indictment for the crimes of usurpation and damages to the detriment of the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares related to his participation in the camp "For Water and Life" installed in Guapinol on August 1, 2018.
Judge Irías De León imposed the precautionary measure of remand and Jeremías Martínez has been in preventive detention in La Ceiba since December 2018. His case was elevated to trial in January 2020 and is now being heard by 1st Chamber of the Sentencing Court of National Jurisdiction in Tegucigalpa.
On September 24, 2020, the Court ordered Jeremías Martínez to be under house arrest because his pre-trial detention time related to the crimes he is charged with had ended. Despite this order, he remains in prison because he is one of the eight people who came forward in August 2019 to face a second set of charges, aggravated arson and unjust deprivation of liberty. In January 2021, Magistrates Jimmy Chirinos, Garín Enoc Urquía and Irasema Guillén of the Court of Appeals of La Ceiba ratified the preventive detention in this second case without the necessary legal justification.
The "For Water and Life" camp in Guapinol was a legitimate and lawful expression in defense of common and public goods and the Carlos Escaleras National Park, but the same Judge Irías De León granted an arbitrary and violent eviction 88 days after the installation of the camp as a result of the accusation of the Public Prosecutor's Office of Tocoa, responding to the complaint of the mining company Inversiones Los Pinares, which alleged that the people defending the affected communities had usurped the company's private lands, and furthermore, that they caused damage to its facilities.
In February 2019, 12 more people from Tocoa, wanted on the same charges of usurpation and damages, voluntarily appeared in court and Judge Víctor Méndez issued a definitive dismissal in their favor. On November 29, 2019, by unanimous vote, the Court of Appeals of Tegucigalpa ratified this ruling, noting that the Tocoa Prosecutors and the private prosecution, Inversiones Los Pinares, did not present a rational indication of the crime of usurpation, confirming the right to peaceful protest and association following the establishment of encampments on public roads. In addition, the Court of Appeals found no evidence of the alleged damages caused to the company.
Taking into account this previous ruling by the Court of Appeals of Tegucigalpa, the Sentencing Court should dismiss the charges of usurpation and damages against Jeremías Martínez this week.
- "Update on the judicial process of the Guapinol River defenders Guapinol case" (English)
- "Sentencing Court orders release of Guapinol defender imprisoned for 21 months" (Spanish)
- "Court of Appeals ratifies right to protest in Guapinol case" (Spanish)
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