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Cablegate: Mexico: Attorney General Overturns Flawed

VZCZCXRO0644
RR RUEHCD RUEHGD RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHNG RUEHNL RUEHRD RUEHRS RUEHTM
DE RUEHME #3079 3000017
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 270017Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MEXICO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8761
INFO RUEHXC/ALL US CONSULATES IN MEXICO COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 1160
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0361
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHME/USMLO MEXICO CITY MX
RUEHME/USDAO MEXICO CITY MX
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEHME/USDAO MEXICO CITY MX

UNCLAS MEXICO 003079

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM PINR UN MX
SUBJECT: MEXICO: ATTORNEY GENERAL OVERTURNS FLAWED
CONVICTION OF INDIGENOUS WOMAN

1. (SBU) Summary: A recent favorable ruling by Mexican legal
authorities on an appeal by an indigenous woman, sentenced
for allegedly kidnapping six armed federal police agents in
March 2006, is another hopeful sign that the Attorney
General's office (PGR) is willing to overturn flawed
decisions by the courts. The irregularities in the woman's
case -- she was tried without the use of a translator and
convicted on the basis of falsified evidence -- are seen as
emblematic of the problems within Mexico's judicial system.
The appeal of two other convictions related to the same
incident are still pending. End Summary.

2. (U) On March 26, 2006, in the community of Santiago
Mexquititlan in Amealco, Queretaro -- about 80 miles
northwest of Mexico City -- federal police conducted a raid
without a warrant on vendors selling pirated DVDs. After the
operation, the agents allegedly offered to compensate the
vendors for damaged merchandise and several departed to
obtain the funds. However, when the officers returned with
cash to pay for the damage the police had caused, the six
federal agents, who had stayed behind with the vendors,
claimed they had been kidnapped and characterized the money
as ransom paid to a group of indigenous women to secure the
release of the police.

3. (U) On August 3, 2006, Jacinta Francisco Marcial, a
popsicle vendor in the market where the police had conducted
their raid, was taken from her house to the police station
for questioning, allegedly under false pretenses. She was
held for trial until December 19, 2008 and ultimately
convicted based in large measure on a photograph taken by a
newspaper in which she appears to be observing the scene
while other vendors negotiated with the police to obtain
compensation for damage to their stands and the confiscation
of their merchandise. She was sentenced to 21 years in
prison, together with two other indigenous women, Alberta
Alcantara and Teresa Gonzalez, for having kidnapped six armed
police officials. In the course of their trial, the judge
accepted statements from the police but refused to accept
evidence that would have exonerated the accused women.

4. (SBU) Based on the lack of evidence against her, Centro
ProDH, a local human rights NGO, adopted Marcial's case in
early January 2009 and appealed her conviction. Centro ProDH
systematically exposed numerous irregularities in the course
of her trial, including the fact that, although none of the
indigenous women speak Spanish, they were not provided a
translator. On September 16, Marcial finally was released
from jail after the Office of the Attorney General (PGR)
dropped the charges. PGR also ruled that Marcial was not
entitled to compensation because she had not proved her
innocence. Centro ProDH is calling for the release of the
other two women, whose cases still are under appeal.

5. (SBU) Comment: Marcial's case is illustrative of some
entrenched biases in Mexico,s judicial system. Marcial and
the other two defendants proved particularly vulnerable given
their limited education, their inablity to communicate in
Spanish, and the long-standing prejudice in Mexican society
and in the courts against the indigenous population. While
Mexico adopted justice reform in 2008, implementation has
been slow and will require a more sustained effort in order
to address shortcomings and overcome cultural attitudes that
undermine respect for the rights of members of Mexico's
indigenous communities. End Comment.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/wha/mexicocity and the North American
Partnership Blog at http://www.intelink.gov/communities/state/nap /
PASCUAL

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