'Accused' Give Statements to Public Prosecutor in Río Blanco Case
31 July 2008
Piura's Public Prosecutor has begun hearings in the case of 35 environmental and human rights activists and local politicians from the region who are accused of terrorism, kidnapping and extortion by the local civic association ACFUCCSC (Asociacién Civil Frente de Unidad de la Comunidad Campesina de Segunda y Cajas). The accused helped organise a local referendum in September 2007 in which 90% of voters expressed their opposition to the proposed mining activity of Minera Río Blanco Copper (formerly Minera Majaz, and part of Monterrico Metals) in the region. The first of the accused to give their statements was Javier Jahncke, a human rights defender and lawyer for non-governmental Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace (FEDEPAZ) and coordinator of a technical support team that advises communities affected by the Río Blanco mining project. Carlos Martínez, mayor of San Ignacio (Cajamarca) and president of the Front for the Sustainable Development of the Northern Border, made up of authorities and representatives of the communities affected by Majaz, also made a statement.
The accused will give statements over the course of a month so that the prosecutor can assess whether or not to pursue the criminal charges.