Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Oaxaca, Mexico: Who is bailing APPO thugs out of jail?

Sixteen more APPO thugs were released from jail Christmas Eve, but who payed their bail? Reforma has been reporting for more than two weeks that the state government of Ulises Ruiz Ortiz has been paying the bail with public money for a total of 81 prisoners who have since been released.

Now Reforma is getting a little closer to the bottom of this. Reforma says that "real estate", presumably a building but it could just as well be a ranch, a big farm or, for that matter, an airport, bridge or highway, has been mortgaged to guarantee "the payment of 47 million pesos in arson and vandalism damage" from the afternoon and evening of November 25. Reforma says that this real estate is valued at 150 million pesos - about 14 million dollars.

Reforma has not yet been able to identify the piece of real estate nor who mortgaged it. Neither have APPO's lawyers. Gilberto Hernandez Santiago, "legal coordinator" for APPO, says,
Up until now, no family member or APPO member has mortgaged any real estate. Why not? Because no one has such a piece of real estate. So we don't know who it was.
He says that APPO lawyers have not been allowed access to the records.
All we know is that they (the prisoners) have signed the bail documents. So we have solicited the Secretary of Interior (federal, I am assuming) to intervene so that we can review all the records and determine what the legal situation is.
This is complicated by the fact that, according to documents that Reforma was able to review, the real estate not only guarantees the reappearance of all 81 prisoners at trial (that's a laugh - they'll be lucky to see 10 of them ever again) it also guarantees the repair costs of the damage. That is, 47 million pesos will have to be paid by the 81 prisoners so far released or the real estate would presumably be forfeited.


APPO's attorneys are also demanding that Flavio Sosa, his driver Ignacio García, Sosa's brothers Horacio and Erick, the APPO spokesman Marcelino Coache, as well as Cesar Mateo Benitez and Jorge Sosa Campos all be released under the same circumstances.

Right, again.

There are still some 91 APPO thugs in jail who have not been released. Judges released 43 on December 16, 20 more on December 21 and the latest group of 18 on Christmas Eve, totalling 81 released. All have had their releases guaranteed by bail but no one seems to know or want to admit guaranteeing said bail.

This is the strangest thing I've ever heard of. No one else here has ever heard of the government jailing persons it has accused of the crimes of arson, vandalism, assault, kidnapping and sedition, then paying their bail with public money that is almost surely to be forfeited. Few of these people will ever show up in court for their trials. And even if they all appeared, they couldn't scrape up 47,000 pesos among them, let alone 47 million.

And, according to Reforma, documents indicate that the real estate that was mortgaged guarantees the payment of 47 million pesos in damages. So what happens if judges at trial start declaring the accused to be innocent? Will the real estate still be forfeited? I dunno. No one else seems to know either.

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