PBI-Guatemala accompanies Human Rights Law Firm at hearing on Samococh Case

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On May 5, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“Yesterday, PBI accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm to the hearing for the presentation of evidence of the #SamocochCase. On this occasion, several accused people testified and a witness presenting on behalf of the prosecution.

On August 15, 2014, a violent eviction occurred in the community of Samococh, Chisec, Alta Verapaz, in which three communities were killed. 23 National Civil Police agents are accused of abuse of power and extrajudicial execution.”

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].”

The demonstration appears to have been against the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam on the Dolores River in Alta Verapaz.

Truthout explains: “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.”

Prensa Libre further notes: “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].”

Truthout adds: “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.”

The three community members killed were Sebastian Rax Caal, 29; Luciano Can Cujub, 40; and Oscar Chen Quej, 22.

We continue to follow this.

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