In a landmark ruling on 22 September, a hearing by the Supreme Court in Amazonas absolved all the accused of murder in connection with the 2009 killings, the so-called Baguazo. The members of the Awajun-Wampi indigenous people accused wept for joy as the verdict was read out.
52 of their people had been charged for homicide in connection with the death of twelve policemen at the so-called Curva del Diablo, near Bagua in Amazonas region. The Awajun leaders, Alberto Pizango and Santiago Maniun were also absolved of charges of inciting the conflict and being directly involved.
The Bagua killings have proved to be an emblematic case of violence caused by government policies to override the rights of indigenous peoples in the quest to sign foreign investment contracts with foreign oil companies. The then APRA government of Alan García criticised local activists for holding up the process of foreign investment in the Amazon jungle. García subsequently vetoed legislation mandating consultation with local indigenous groups in advance of projects going ahead.
The state prosecutor in the case had argued for those accused to be given life sentences for their part in the killings. However, the judge in the case resolved that their defence of the environment was a superior objective (“un fin superior”) to simply blocking roads, the immediate cause of the protests that led to the deaths that day.
The prosecution have said they will take the case to appeal in the Supreme Court.