PBI-Guatemala accompanies Human Rights Law Firm to hearing of police accused of the extrajudicial killing of three Q’eqchi’ defenders

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On January 27, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“PBI accompanies to the Human Rights Law Firm to the hearing of the #SamocochCase that since January 19, started the oral and public debate against 23 members of the National Civil Police [PNC]. They are charged with offences related to excessive use of public force, failure of duty and the death of three Q’eqchi’ community members during the eviction of a roadblock in the community of Samococh, Chisec municipality, Alta Verapaz.

The facts go back to what happened in August 2014, when 29-year-old Sebastian Rax Caal, 40-year-old Luciano Can Cujub and 22-year-old Oscar Chen Quej lost their lives.”

LaHora.gt reports: “Almost three years late for the trial against 23 agents of the National Civil Police (PNC) to begin, on January 19, 2023, the High Risk Court “B” held the first hearing of the aforementioned oral and public debate.”

That article adds: “The process has been postponed since February 2020. The reasons for the suspensions were the following: COVID-19, absence of lawyers, lack of a sworn translator [for those who] speak the Qʼeqchiʼ language, among others.”

PBI-Guatemala has previously explained: “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].”

Truthout has also explained: “In Monte Olivo, the state used its full force against the community. On August 14, 2014, 600 police units were deployed to evict a community of a few hundred families along the River Dolores. …In the following days, two other communities, 9 de Febrero and Samococh, both faced similar violent evictions to make way for the dam. These communities were driven out by 1,600 police units, and 22 community leaders were detained.”

That article also notes: “The Guatemalan-based company Hydro Electrical Santa Rita S.A., owned by the elite López-Roesch family, first proposed the Santa Rita hydro project in 2009. The powerful and influential cement company Cementos Progreso, owned by the Guatemalan Novella family, is reported to also have interests in the project.”

Prensa Libre further notes: “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.”

We have previously highlighted this trial in this article: PBI-Guatemala accompanies law firm at hearing of police officers accused in the death of 3 Q’eqchi’ community members (July 6, 2021).

We continue to follow this.

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