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Supreme Court Must Release Arbitrarily Detained Guapinol River Defenders in Time for Christmas

- For immediate release -

Plenary of the Supreme Court should revoke the Criminal Chamber's illegal resolution to extend arbitrary preventive detention and send the Guapinol River defenders home for Christmas.

Tegucigalpa, December 14, 2021

The Plenary of the Supreme Court of Justice must immediately resolve the release of the defenders in arbitrary detention for more than 27 months so that they can finally spend this Christmas with their families, this in response to the writ of habeas corpus filed today for the illegality of detention given the extension of preventive detention by order of the Criminal Chamber that in 11 words justifies 6 months of preventive detention against 8 citizens who have the status of environmental defenders.

Last week the hearings of the oral and public trial of the renowned Guapinol case, being held in Tocoa, were suspended after the legal defense was forced to recuse the Sentencing Court hearing the case for having made an illegal decision, demonstrating its clear bias in favor of the prosecution - the Public Ministry and Inversiones Los Pinares, to expand the prosecution against the defenders, by including a fourth charge without legal basis. The trial is suspended while the Court of Appeals rules on the challenge.

The defenders were criminalized for their legitimate protest against the Los Pinares open-pit iron oxide mine in Carlos Escaleras Park, which is endangering the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people by contaminating the Guapinol and San Pedro rivers. In November 2020, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions ruled that the detention of environmentalists Kelvin Alejandro Romero, José Daniel Márquez, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, José Abelino Cedillo, Ewer Alexander Cedillo, Orbin Nahum Hernandez, Arnol Javier Alemán Soriano and Jeremías Martínez Díaz is arbitrary and urged the State to immediately release the defenders and repair the damages caused. It also demanded that those responsible for the illegal detention be investigated promptly, a call that Attorney General Oscar Chinchilla has failed to carry out, which is one of the reasons why his impeachment is increasingly being called for.

It is important to note that, according to the Criminal Procedural Code, the constitutional action of Habeas Corpus must be resolved immediately, regardless of the upcoming vacation period of the Judiciary. The Plenary must meet immediately and issue a resolution to release Guapinol's defenders so that they can finally spend this Christmas with their families after more than 27 months of arbitrary detention.

When illegally detained, the State has the responsibility to guarantee personal liberty and the integrity and privacy of the human person. With today's filing of the habeas corpus appeal, the Supreme Court of Justice has the duty to comply with this constitutional guarantee. The recognized Guapinol case is now in the hands of the president of the Supreme Court, Rolando Argueta, and the plenary so that the case is resolved in accordance with the law and the resolution of the UN working group is finally applied.

Municipal Committee for the Defense of the Common and Public Goods

Legal Defense Team

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