Saturday, May 11, 2013

The doubts about the imprisonment of werkén Daniel Melinao of the Mapuche community Wente Winkul Mapu, Chile

Posted by Mapuche Jesuit Mission on Monday May 6, 2013

On Monday April 2, 2012, in the morning, the GOPE sergeant of the militarized police Hugo Albornoz received a bullet wound in the neck, in a confusing situation, as he was leaving the community Wente Winkul Mapu, in the commune of Ercilla. The policeman was on duty, along with about 50 troops in a process led by the chief prosecutor of Collipulli, Luis Chamorro. The operation ended with two women arrested, one of them in an unauthorized raid.

Hours later, the sergeant died in the Regional Hospital of Temuco, causing public outcry. The next day, the community werkén, Daniel Melinao, requested to justice to promptly clarify the facts and voluntarily received the Investigative Police to conduct corresponding on-site surveys. In this survey it was determined that the sergeant was not wounded in an ambush on the road, as had been the official version of the prosecution and militarized police, but in the yard of a house to which they subsequently entered.

A year later, the leader Daniel Melinao is arrested in the city of Collipulli and formalized as coauthor of the aggravated homicide to the sergeant Albornoz, being detained at the jail of Angol, for at least two months. The same prosecutor Chamorro presented the charges, and as evidence, the triangulation of his cell phone, which would place it in the community, or close to it, at the time and place of the events. In addition, five policemen say to recognize him as having been present on site, giving a shotgun shell to other community members who would have been been involved in a confrontation.

There are a number of questions that worry us when discerning this situation.

How much progress has been made in the investigation to clarify the truth about the death of Sergeant Albornoz, since it occurred one year ago? In January of this year the press release on the filtered report by the police, specified that there is insufficient evidence to make arrests. What changed between then and now?

Why was the right denied of the prisoners to be represented by counsel of his own confidence in the formalization? Why can the defense still not have access to the investigation file? 

How much did the court, in accepting the plea, take into account the activities that the leader undertook in Collipulli -of which there are several witnesses- during the morning of Monday, April 2, while the raid was being conducted? Within a very short time of the leader being in Collipulli, police testified that he was actively participating in a clash in a place that is extremely difficult to access due to the terrain conditions. 

Should the prosecutor not be declared incompetent, being that he was part of the alleged ambush, and leave the investigation to a prosecutor who can act impartially? The Public Defender has called twice already for the incompetence of the public prosecutor Chamorro -for having the status of victim in the causes that he himself investigates- which has been dismissed by the regional prosecutor. 

On the other hand, we feel that there is sufficient evidence to make a challenge to the prosecutor Chamorro and the Court of Angol, regarding the causes raised against this community and others, since the Supreme Court has already three times in recent months canceled trials and long sentences for lack of evidence, after lengthy pretrial detentions issued in similar procedures of formalizations occurred long after the facts.

How much are the courts in the area pressured in order to obtain prisoners of the communities that are pursuing effective territorial recovery processes, and how is this causing a lack of thoroughness in assessing the merits of an accusation?

No one can not regret the death of a policeman on duty. We believe that neither the militarized police nor the Mapuche are the most responsible for the violence to which we are already accustomed -they are just cannon fodder- but rather a political and economic power that refuses to advance territorial restitution, provoking painful situations which can no longer be resisted anymore.

We hope that as soon as possible they will clarify the truth of the facts on the death of Sergeant Albornoz, after exhaustive research that will have taken a full year, with ample resources by the relevant agencies. We long for it that pretrial detention is declared only when there is sufficient evidence, as we see that it has not the case in several instances already.

In the case of Daniel Melinao, we do not understand how there can be evidence today, that was not there in the last months, if police officers are said to be those who recognize him as having been on the scene, and when he is a well known leader in the area. If police had photos taken that day, then Melinao ought to have been imprisoned the following day, when he appeared publicly in the press asking for clarification of the situation and opening the community to the Investigations Police.

The arrest of the werkén of Wente Winkul Mapu occurs in a broader context of political decisions on the demands of the Mapuche movement. In recent weeks there have been raids in different communities, highlighting the strength of the police force with military weapons in Trapilwe, Mawidache and Rukawe. There are already about 30 Mapuche prisoners from Conception to Valdivia, with criteria that would not be accepted if the accused were not Mapuche. Whilst, there is made progress on projects without consultation, ie illegitimate: the forestry law, the airport and the Hydropower Plant in the ceremonial site in Pilmaikén. We find that in this election year an increasingly confrontational scenario is being prepared for the next government. 


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