Indigenous leaders critize sentence on Bagua conflict

Representatives from indigenous communities have criticized the sentence handed down to three military and police generals who were involved in a deadly confrontation between protesters and Peruvian soldiers and police on a remote jungle highway in June 2009.

The three generals led the government’s response to the protests. They received sentences in a military court ranging from 12-36 months for their role in the confrontation, daily El Comercio reported.  Since the sentences are of under three years, the generals will not spend time in prison.

The legal advisor to the Interethnic Association for the Development of Peru’s Jungle (Aidesep), Ivan Carrascal, called for Luis Muguruza and Javier Uribe, from the National Police, and Raul Silva of the Peruvian Army to be tried in civilian courts.

Meanwhile, the president of an association that represents those injured in the confrontation, Eleodoro Gonzalez, said the sentence was too mild, pointing out that some of the protesters received five-year prison sentences.

“There are more than 30 of us who are injured and until now we haven’t received any assistance,” Gonzalez said. “We ask that the generals be tried in the civilian jurisdiction, and also those who gave the orders to move the indigenous [protesters],” he said, referring to the Cabinet and specifically to the Minister of Interior at the time, Mercedes Cabanillas.  

With only months before President Alan Garcia finishes his term, the confrontation could be remembered as the worst crisis he faced during his administration.

The Bagua protesters were demanding, among other things, the repeal of several Executive decrees enacted in 2008 by Garcia to provide attractive investment conditions for the Free Trade Agreement signed with the United States. Twenty-four police officers and 10 civilians were killed in the protests.

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