A court ruling in Cuzco has cleared human rights defenders of charges against them dating from 2011. Although the case will be appealed, the judgement was clear-cut in the language it used.

Back in December 2011, a protest was launched in Chumbivilcas in Cuzco region against the contamination and damage to health and the environment being done by transient lorries taking minerals to port. The mining company was Anabi and the district concerned Llusco. Arrests at the time have since led to a long-drawn-out legal case against protesters, ten of whom are still accused.

This week, on Monday 27 January, at long last there was a strong ruling from the court, the Juzgado Penal Colegiado de Cusco, saying in no uncertain terms that the court found no case to answer.

The case will now go to appeal at a higher level. But it goes with a fair wind. The ruling says that the court found no evidence of intention to commit crimes or collaboration to do so. It maintained that “there is not a single proof of any act showing that the accused conspired to commit any of the crimes in question – kidnapping, aggravated robbery, disturbances of the peace, obstruction…”

In reaching its verdict, the court claims to have watched over 200 videos and to have failed to find any direct evidence against any individual among those accused. And, it says, all the witnesses were employees of the mine.