dorset chiapas solidarity

March 29, 2013

Amnesty International calls for a fair and exemplary decision for the indigenous Alberto Patishtán

Filed under: Political prisoners — Tags: — dorsetchiapassolidarity @ 8:27 am


Amnesty International calls for a fair and exemplary decision for the indigenous Alberto Patishtán

March 28, 2013

alberto-patishtan-ai-bannerAmnesty International sent a letter to the magistrates of the First Appellate Court of the Twentieth Circuit on March 20th, in order to make them aware of the organization’s concerns in relation to the case of the indigenous Professor Alberto Patishtán. This court must make a decision soon about the motion for the recognition of innocence brought on behalf of Alberto Patishtán.

Alberto Patishtán is an indigenous Tzotzil teacher, from the Municipality of El Bosque in the State of Chiapas. He was accused of participating in an ambush which took place on June 12, 2000, in which seven policemen were killed and two others were injured. After being processed, he was sentenced to 60 years in prison for wounding, culpable homicide and being in possession of weapons for the exclusive use of the army, among other charges.

After thoroughly reviewing the case of Patishtán, Amnesty International has concluded that there were serious flaws in the process, including irregularities and inconsistencies in the testimony of the witness who identified Alberto Patishtán as responsible for the crimes. This testimony was taken into account, while evidence indicating that Patishtán was elsewhere during the ambush was discarded.

The organization also believes that Alberto Patishtán did not have access to an adequate defence, as both his public defender and his subsequent lawyer acted with notable deficiencies.

Amnesty International has documented several times how the justice system in Mexico fails to ensure fairness and equality of process, especially when the accused is an indigenous person with scanty economic and social resources.

The organization hopes that the Appellate Court will respond with a fair and exemplary decision to establish legal precedent in the obligation to comply with international human rights treaties, including the right to a fair trial and effective judicial recourse. This is essential to help establish legal precedent so that cases like that of Alberto Patishtán will not continue to happen.

Additional information

On March 6, 2013 the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) decided, by three votes to two, not to resume jurisdiction over the motion for the recognition of Patishtán’s innocence. As a result of this decision the case was returned to the Twentieth Circuit Appellate Court.

On 22 October 2012, Amnesty International sent a letter to the ministers and the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) in which the organization explained the irregularities, and the importance of ensuring that the judiciary assess the evidence in the proceedings in light of the case law of the judiciary from the original sentence issued against Alberto Patishtán, which has led to significant advances in the area of human rights and in guaranteeing the right to a fair and impartial trial.

The letter which was sent on March 20, can be seen here: 20AMR%%% 20Re% 2041.2013.003 20Patishtan.PDF

The letter sent to SCJN in October last year is also available through the following link:




AI asks appeals court to dispense “justice without discrimination” in the case of Patishtán

They demand an exemplary sentence to establish legal precedent and prevent injustice

Herman Bellinghausen, La Jornada

Wednesday 27th March, 2013

The international office of Amnesty International (AI) called on the judges of the First Collegiate Court of the twentieth circuit, in the Federal Courthouse in Tuxtla Gutierrez, Chiapas, to “respond with an exemplary sentence” that might establish a legal precedent in cases like that of Alberto Patishtán Gomez, “such that in the future the injustice to which he has been subjected may be prevented.”

In a letter, of which La Jornada has a copy, the organization appeals to Judges Manuel de Jesús Rosales and Freddi Gabriel Celis Fuentes to impart justice without discrimination in a case that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN), according to AI, should have resolved favourably, but did not do so. In the coming days, the appellate court will receive the record of the Tzotzil teacher from El Bosque, sent by the [Supreme] Court itself.

Javier Zúñiga Mejía Borja, from the International Secretariat of Amnesty International, based in London, United Kingdom, says: “AI is seriously concerned that the decision of the Supreme Court indicates that its First Chamber does not consider this case to be of major importance, [although it is] tainted by evidence of discrimination against Patishtán’s indigenous status.” [The letter] explains that “[AI] respects the work in recent years of the Supreme Court in issuing decisions that take up the obligations of international human rights treaties and reinforce respect for due process in reviewing other emblematic cases” of other indigenous prisoners, such as Alberta Alcántara, Teresa González, Hugo Sánchez Ramírez, José Ramón Aniceto and Pascual Agustín Cruz.

The agency points out that it had approached the Supreme Court in October of 2012 to call attention to the case of the teacher. At that time, it highlighted the injustice that has occurred, and that in “other cases of manifest injustice of indigenous people sentenced and processed”, the Court had ruled favourably [for the defendants]. Regarding Patishtán, it stressed “the failure to comply with the rights to effective defence, presumption of innocence and equality of parties in the judicial process.”

Right to a Fair Trial

AI admits that “it is not ignoring” the exhaustion “by an inadequate defence” of other legal remedies, such as appeal and direct amparo [protection], but this “should not serve as justification for the Judiciary not to assert the right to a fair trial.”

The agency “notes with concern the comments of the informative card issued by the Supreme Court on March 6, in which assessments are made about the criteria for a ‘public document’ required to defend the motion of recognition of innocence.” It notes that the Federal Code of Criminal Procedures “does not establish criteria to exclude the proper legal precedent by the Judiciary” in this regard. “In fact, the public documents filed by the defence have the legitimate objective of demonstrating that the evaluation of the evidence against Patishtán, which resulted in his conviction, is invalid in light of the case law that the Judiciary has since issued.”

It underscores that it is precisely the objective of Article 550 of that federal code, which “established as a reason for filing a motion of recognition of innocence” the appeal filed by [Patishtán’s] defence last year. And it cites Mexico’s international commitment to fulfil “the principle of the retroactive application of the rule that benefits the defendant.”

Consequently, AI considers that the appellate court “has an obligation to evaluate impartially the evidence presented by the defence, in accordance with the international obligations that are already part of the Mexican Constitution.”

This article translated by Jane Brundage



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