Interview with the Attorney for Atenco Social Leaders Ignacio del Valle and Felipe Álvarez
“We are betting that the court won't grant them [legal protection], but will find them innocent instead.”
By Anne Vigna
Special to the Narco News Bulletin
June 28, 2010
Leonel Rivero is the attorney for Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Álvarez and America del Valle. Narco News interviewed him upon his arrival to the Mexican Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 23. Around the same time, he received a call from América, explaining that she was in the Venezuelan embassy seeking political asylum. América won’t benefit from an upcoming decision made by Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation on June 30, which could free twelve prisoners who with sentences ranging from 30 to 112 years in prison.
Do you see a possibility for the release of the 12 prisoners?
I am quite optimistic. We consider the legal arguments by the defense to be conclusive in showing that there were serious irregularities with due process and the presumption of innocence. Those were the last decisions made by the Supreme Court both in the case of the Acteal massacre as well as the case of the two Otomí women in Querétaro. In those two cases the court found wrongdoings by the public prosecutor, including torture and evidence tampering. So they should agree that we are right.
As the lawyer for Ignacio y Felipe I am also confident because a circuit court determined last year that there never was a “kidnapping crime.” This crime never existed. In all of the cases, what may have existed were crimes described as “resisting arrest” which are misdemeanors punishable by one to two years in prison.
We are betting that the court won’t grant them a protective order but will find them innocent instead. That’s our bet. It’s a historic opportunity for the court, with all of the preceding events in this case. The court is well aware of the serious human rights violations, because it conducted a lengthy investigation into all of the crimes and abuses committed by the police.
On a political level, does it also seem to you that the context is favorable?
There was strong pressure on the judges to impose the sentences. Today, Mexican society is fully aware that these extreme sentences do not fit the supposed crime and exceed those received by any criminal. It is a moral burden for the Mexican state to have twelve prisoners with extreme sentences and without proof of their guilt. For Calderón but also for Enrique Peña Nieto. For the governor of the state of Mexico, it’s not worth it to him to run for president with this unresolved burden. He has been questioned over his method of administering and managing justice, like with the Paulette case as evidenced in the media. It’s his weak side, he has to cover himself one way or another.
Today in Mexico, we have an executive branch that is completely on the defensive, challenged by the fight against drug trafficking. The legislative branch has also been questioned over its lack of work. And the Supreme Court has no counterweight without a single effective mechanism for accountability and transparency, which makes its decisions remote to society. Society has no idea how the court makes decisions. This way of acting in the shadows allows it to consolidate its power over others. It decides very controversial matters, but it can also change the law or impact public policies.
Today, the court is completely politicized. Its decisions reflect a political game where each step is calculated. The court has gained strength because it has the ability to impact public policies in a sector of the population. And it just disappointed Mexican society again with the deplorable ABC nursery case.
The controversy over gay marriage is expected to begin next week. What is the court going to do?
It can’t please everyone, but it also can’t ever deny the proper administration of justice. In that sense, our case has a good chance. The court seeks to balance its decisions.
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