PBI-Guatemala accompanies law firm at hearing of 26 police officers accused in the death of 3 Q’eqchi’ community members

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On July 5, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Today, PBI accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) at the debate hearing on the Samococh case.”

PBI-Guatemala then explains: “More than 20 PNC officers are accused of extrajudicial execution, non-compliance with duties and abuse of authority for having caused the death of three Q’eqchi’ community members from Samococh village in Chisec, Alta Verapaz, during a demonstration [on August 15, 2014].”

Prensa Comunitaria has previously noted: “As a result of the PNC’s actions, three community members were assassinated: Sebastián Rax Caal, 29, Luciano Can Cujub, 40, and Óscar Chen Quej, 22.” The three died from gunshot wounds.

Prensa Libre further notes: “The events date back to the violent eviction carried out by the PNC on August 15, 2014… The confrontation occurred when dozens of police tried to evict peasants who had blocked the road from Chisec to Raxruhá, Alta Verapaz, to prevent the transfer of two leaders of the Peasant Development Committee [CODECA].”

“The PNC agents who arrived came from Cobán, where the Public Ministry successfully evicted some 160 families who were occupying the Santa Rita and Santa Rita Xalahá Canguini farms. In the first community [Santa Rita], families lived to avoid the construction of a hydroelectric plant [that lacked their free, prior and informed consent].”

That article adds: “The PNC tried to capture local leaders Rafael Chub and María del Carmen del Cid, which generated discontent among the residents and the confrontation.”

Lawyers Without Borders Canada also provides more background on what happened in this article from June 2015.

As for the present hearings, TN23 reports: “This July 5, the trial against 26 police officers was to begin in High Risk Court B. However, the oral and public debate was canceled because two defendants have COVID-19. Some defense lawyers asked that the trial be postponed until 2022 due to the conditions in the country due to the pandemic. The court judges decided to postpone the start of the trial to July 26, 2021.”

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