NewsLatin AmericaThe Supreme Court orders the immediate release of three men unjustly imprisoned for seven years

The Supreme Court orders the immediate release of three men unjustly imprisoned for seven years

Frame from the Netflix series ‘Reasonable Doubt: A Tale of Two Kidnappings’, directed by Roberto Hernandez.

After seven and a half years in a Tabasco prison, Gonzalo Garcia, Juan Luis Lopez and Hector Munoz are about to be released. The 11 ministers of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation have been unanimous in considering that the Prosecutor’s evidence was insufficient to convict them of attempted kidnapping and have granted a plain and simple amparo that implies the immediate release of the three men. In a session that has exposed the deficiencies and irregularities of the agents, prosecutors and judges who dealt with the case of Gonzalo, Juan Luis and Hector, portrayed in the Netflix documentary Reasonable doubtthe plenary session of the high court of Mexico has been established as the tool to “correct a serious injustice.”

On June 20, 2015, Hector Munoz suffered a traffic accident with a truck in front of a gas station in Ciudad Pemex (Tabasco). After a fight with the driver, identified as ACP, and after being shot in the hand, Hector was arrested and accused of having tried to kidnap this individual. In addition to him, the agents arrested two other men —Gonzalo Garcia and Juan Luis Lopez— who were resting inside their vehicle at that same gas station. They accused them and presented them as a gang of kidnappers. The Supreme Court has proven that the police did not request the recordings of the scene of the events, they did not interview any witnesses, their versions contradict each other, they did not identify any evidence, they did not find any communication between the three men, they did not secure weapons, they did not respect the chain of custody of the objects and vehicles involved. The only witness to the events defended the innocence of the defendants.

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As soon as they were arrested, the three men were taken to a secret Prosecutor’s Office building where they were tortured: they were beaten and drowned with plastic bags. Two days later, the Public Ministry conceded that there was insufficient evidence to prove the attempted kidnapping and ordered his release. However, in the first of many improbable turns by the Prosecutor’s Office, the agents then arrested them for the kidnapping of ACP’s sister, identified as GLP, which occurred on May 26, 2015.

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The arrival on the scene of the documentary maker Roberto Hernandez and the lawyer Andres Andrade achieved in June 2017 the acquittal of the three men for the crime of kidnapping LPG, since the men had strong alibis for the day the woman had been kidnapped, a crime for which, in addition, there were already other men arrested. The same day they were to be released, the Prosecutor’s Office avoided it by relaunching the accusation for the attempted kidnapping of ACP

In February 2018, the oral trial began in the Third Criminal Chamber of Orality of the Superior Court of Justice of the State of Tabasco. It is this judicial process that the SCJN has analyzed. The ministers have considered that the right to the presumption of innocence of Gonzalo, Juan Luis and Hector was totally violated. And that the judges charged the defendants with the responsibility of proving their innocence, when it should be the opposite: the Prosecutor’s Office is the one who must prove guilt.

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“It is an accumulation of irregularities, I consider that this Supreme Court cannot remain silent in the face of the violation of their right to freedom, we cannot keep an accomplice silence, they were falsely accused”, said the minister Yazmin Esquivel this Thursday, “I propose the highest possible degree of reparation and give a hearing to the authorities so that the investigations can be opened to clarify the administrative and criminal responsibilities that proceed.”

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