DENUNCIATION, SUPPORT, SOLIDARITY
The public prosecutor of the city of Traiguén has asked for the Anti-terrorist Law to be applied against Aniceto Norin Catriman, the Lonko [Leader] of the Didaico Community. He was detained after having voluntarily presented himself at the CID Offices of the Chilean Police Force because of an investigation into the burning down of the proprietors house at Nancahue Farm in the Traiguén District of the Ninth Region.
According to the evidence held by the Indigenous Penal Defence, a department of the Ministry of Justice, based on expert investigations, there is no evidence that points to the fire being started deliberately.
On top of Lonko Norins arrest there is that of Pascual Pichun, the Lonkop of the Temulemu Community, who was also charged under the Anti-terrorist Act but who was set free by the magistrate through lack of evidence. This latest arrest is another example of the racist response carried out by public officials who always blame the leaders [Lonkos and Werkenes] of the traditional Mapuche Communities for offences carried out within the zones of conflict. They even go as far, in some cases, of accusing ordinary Mapuche people of belonging to an illegal group for simply being part of a Mapuche Community and for recognising their traditional authorities.
What is so serious about Lonko Aniceto Norins arrest is not that he has been charged under the new Penal Code which recently came into effect [although it only applies in certain parts of the country due to the decision to introduce it in stages] and which should have been used in his case, but that he is being charged under the Anti-terrorist legislation.
This Act was enacted in 1984 during the dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet as a way of persecuting his political opponents at a time when social protests were intensifying against his rule.
It was thought that this legislation had been dropped because its operational context is out-of-date since it refers to the Centre for National Information [C.N.I.], the political Police of the Pinochet government.
Lonko Aniceto Norin, availing himself of the new legislation which applies in the Ninth Region, went voluntarily to make a statement at the CID offices of the Police Force in the city of Traiguén. They promptly arrested him and placed him in the hands of the Public Prosecutor of Traiguén. He was brought before the court on the 3 January, 2002 and the Public Prosecutor brought no evidence against the Lonko but simply requested an extension of his detention for another ten days.
He based his request on Article 19, subsection 7c of the 1980 Constitution which says: "If the authorities are minded to arrest or detain a person, they must within the following 48 hours, bring the facts before a competent Judge and place the person under the jurisdiction of the Court. The Judge may, based on sound evidence, extend the period of detention for up to a further five days or in the case of persons being questioned under acts of terrorism as determined by Law, up to a further ten days".
Without going into details and pre-supposing the fact of a crime and whether this can be classified as terrorist or not or whether there is evidence to incriminate Lonko Aniceto Norin, taking the constitutional point as it stands, the right to extend the detention of a person refers only to the need of the Police to hold that person in order to place him within the jurisdiction of the Court. It is evident that he has already been placed under the jurisdiction of the Court and the presiding judge of Traiguén, Silvia Merino Sharte, has illegally extended the period of detention for another 10 days.
What should have happened in this case, is that envisaged within Article 127 of the new Penal Code. Herein it states that a person may be detained without incriminating evidence "only when there would be some impediment for it to happen due to an unforeseen delay or difficulty". Yet in the case of peñi Aniceto Norin he went voluntarily to give evidence therefore undermining the basis of the said detention order.
Article 131 lays down that when a detention order issued by a court exists the accused must be brought before it within a maximun time span of 24 hours. At this point the Prosecutor must establish the charges against the accused and, if applicable, a request for a remand in custody. It is also laid down that " if it is not possible to proceed in the aforesaid manner, the Prosecutor may request an extension of the remand in custody for up to 3 days in order to prepare his case".
In view of these facts, on the 4th January a writ of Habeas Corpus was put before the Appeal Court of Temuco, citing the arbitrary and ultra vires decision of Judge Silvia Merino Sharte. On the 8th January 2002 the Appeal Court of Temuco turned down the application for a writ of Habeas Corpus on the grounds that the Judge had not exceeded her legal powers. An appeal was lodged forthwith. This appeal is to be heard by the Supreme Court within the next few days, probably on Friday 11th January.
Faced with this situation, which represents a very dangerous precedent and a sad anti-democratic shift, we believe that it is imperative people point out the illegal nature of the decision, both to the Appeal Court of Temuco as well as the Supreme Court.
The argument to be sent to the Appeal Court of Temuco should be based on the erroneous interpretation of the Law based on the facts that there is no evidence of a crime, and if there should be, it is not of a terrorist nature; also that there is no evidence against Lonko Aniceto Norin.
The argument to be sent to the Supreme Court should be based on the importance of re-establishing constitutional guarantees in respect of Lonko Aniceto Norin Catrimán, grant the writ of Habeas Corpus and set him free immediately. The addresses are the following:
CORTE DE APELACIONES DE TEMUCO
Ricardo Lagos Escobar
Intendencia Región Araucanía
Sra. Soledad Alvear
Sra. Michelle Bachelet Jeria