Conga 16 reprieved

19 March 2017

On 16 March, the court considering the case of 16 ronderos and environmental activists accused of supposed kidnapping (secustro agavado), ruled that there was no case to answer. Although the court has yet finally to resolve on the case, the decision was greeted as good news by those opposing the vast Conga copper mining project in Cajamarca.

The public prosecutors had asked for 36 years in prison for the accused, an absurd penalty. The case refers to a meeting in 2013 in which the protesters had aired their disagreements with the governor of Sorochuco district who supported Conga. The governor had alleged that the protesters had used threats and weapons to mobilise opposition to the meeting.

Mirtha Vásquez, the lawyer for the accused, is quoted as saying “there are other cases pending (…) but this one was particularly worrying because the public prosecutor had demanded 36 years”. Human rights groups have been following the cases with concern for what they signify for the criminalisation of social protest.

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