PBI-Guatemala accompanies lawyers and criminalized Mayan Q’eqchi’ water protector Bernardo Caal Xol at acquittal

Published by Brent Patterson on

PBI-Guatemala has posted:

“Yesterday #PBI accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm at the hearing of the sentence reading of the Teacher Case, the second case of criminalization against the defender of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabon Bernardo Caal Xol.

Judge José Alfredo Quiñónez acquitted the defender of the crimes of appropriation and undue detention, since, according to findings, the MP [Public Ministry] did not strengthen the investigation raised against him.”

Prensa Comunitaria further reports:

This Wednesday, April 19, Judge José Alfredo Quiñónez Lemus who presides over the Second Criminal Sentencing Court of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, acquitted and declared Caal Xol free of the crimes of appropriation and improper retention.

In 2017 he was denounced by the Ministry of Education (MINEDUC), allegedly for abandonment of work, while teaching in a primary school in the village of Sibicte de Chisec. During the hearings, the professor’s defense argued that the process against him was administrative in nature. However, the Public Ministry (MP) sought a sentence against him for the crime of illegal detention.

During the reading of the resolution, the judge affirmed that the evidence presented by the MP did not strengthen the accusation.

Between 2012 and 2013, while teaching, Bernardo Caal was also assistant secretary of the Union of Education Workers of Guatemala (STEG), according to documents filed before the judge.

“The defendant for engaging in trade union activity, for which he was duly authorized, was absent from his work as a teacher and in exchange was canceled by the State of Guatemala salaries that corresponded to him as a teacher. The defendant was obliged to return money that he received as wages for his work. In any case, when it is received beyond what corresponds to him, the public employee is obliged to reinstate them. However, this reimbursement must be made in the coercive economic route that is indicated, which was not followed in the case of the accused, “emphasized Judge José Alfredo Quiñónez Lemus.

After knowing the sentence, Caal Xol gave his first statements about the criminalization to which he has been exposed since 2015 when the first case was opened against him for denouncing that the hydroelectric plant violated the rights of the Mayan Q’eqchi’ people, in Santa María Cahabón, because the construction of the same was without consultation.

The full article can be read at Juez de Cobán absuelve a Bernardo Caal en segundo caso en su contra (April 19, 2023).

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has accompanied Bernardo Caal and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón since August 2017. And it has accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm since late 2013.


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