The Scapegoating of Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno

Background:

Juan ManuelJuan Manuel Martinez Moreno, a 35-year-old local activist was arrested and charged as the probable killer 2 years later in October, 2008.  There was no evidence against him.  70 witnesses testified and not one mentioned him, much less singling him out as the gunman.  Multiple witnesses say Will was shot by paramilitaries who are seen in photos shooting towards Will. The paramilitaries are: Juan Carlo Soriano, municipal police officer; Manuel Aguilar, council personnel chief; Able Santiago Zarate; and Pedro Carmona, mayor of Felipe Carrillo Puerto de Santa Lucia del Camino. Despite this knowledge Brad’s murderers have yet to be imprisoned, while others who helped him – namely Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno – are being scapegoated by the local Mexican government for his murder. There were several investigations.  The federal attorney general’s was disputed as shoddy and contradictory by Mexico’s own national human rights commission’s investigation and in a separate detailed report by the independent group Physicians for Human Rights.  None of these implicated Juan Manuel as the killer.  The government case depends solely on the testimony of 2 “witnesses” who stated they did not see the murder but “heard other people say that APPO people shot Brad Will.”

Current Situation:

Oaxaca activist Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno is still incarcerated, falsely accused of the murder for U.S. Indymedia photo-journalist Brad Will in Oaxaca in October 2006. His next court hearing to have the case dismissed for lack of credible evidence will be held in federal court in Oaxaca on August 26, 2009.

The Mexican government is desperate for a conviction in this case because its resolution was specifically made a condition of approval of the Merida Initiative for which some funding issues are currently pending in U.S. Congress. On August 4, Senator Patrick Leahy of the Appropriations Committee refused to approve $100 (15%) because Mexico has “not complied with human rights conditions” of the Initiative. So this case remains a front page issue in both countries.

The federal judge in Oaxaca who will receive the arguments from both sides and decide the fate of Juan Manuel is at the judicial level below the supreme court of Mexico.

UPDATE: Juan Manuel was released on February 18, 2010. Here is an inspiring account of the campaign to free him and what remains to be achieved.

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