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The corrupt Paraguayan judicial system, the de facto powers of landowners and communication media “have made up a story which has resulted in a conviction without investigating absolutely nothing”. The defense attorneys of the peasants were not allowed to summon witnesses and evidence pointing to the State´s role in the events was ignored.
These were the words of lawyer Gustavo Noguera, in an interview with Real World Radio, about the ruling made known last Monday that resulted in the conviction of eleven peasants to sentences between 4 and 30 years in prison over the event known as the “Curuguaty Massacre” in June 2012.
One of the arguments of the defense attorneys to render this conviction null or void is the fact that the deaths of the civilians participating in the Marina Cue land occupation were not investigated. “Actually, nothing was investigated, a story was made up and basically all witnesses during the trial were police officers; we weren´t allowed to summon other witnesses”.
Noguera defended Rubén Villalba in other three cases filed by the Prosecutor, but not in this case. However, he stated that the message in this trial against the peasants is clear: “This is a message to everyone who dares question land ownership in this country, where 1 per cent of the population controls over 85 per cent of all productive lands”.
Also, Noguera talked about the importance of the international pressure and concern over the Horacio Cartes administration. Cartes took office precisely after the institutional breakdown that resulted from the June 2012 massacre with the ousting of Fernando Lugo.
As an example of the violation of guarantees during the trial against Rubén Villalba and other peasants, the lawyer stated that an appeal submitted over a year and a half ago has not been dealt with yet by the appeals court, when the law establishes a term of 20 days for similar proceedings.
“A story was made up and the trial was adapted to this story”, said Noguera. He added that the three old firearms submitted as evidence “were proven to have never been shot. An autopsy on the victims to obtain more information about the circumstances surrounding their deaths was denied, and the accusations of a group of women, children and some men being capable of ambushing 320 police officers are impossible to sustain”.
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