Flanked by masked socialist front members, police are set free. Flanked by masked socialist front members, police are set free.

5 cops held hostage in Chiapas released after 21 days

The National Front for Socialism said their release was a goodwill gesture

Five Chiapas police officers held hostage for three weeks were released Wednesday by the National Front for Socialism (FNLS), even though its demands have not been met.

The officers were detained on July 18 as they were driving past Río Florido, Ocosingo. Members of the FNLS confiscated their weapons and burned their vehicles.

At a release ceremony yesterday in Río Florido, where FNLS members kept their faces covered, a spokesman reaffirmed their demands for the “demilitarization” of Chiapas and the release of jailed FNLS member Javier González Díaz, who is accused of stealing a car.

“The freeing of these five police officers is to demonstrate the goodwill of the FNLS, and the inability of the state government to negotiate,” he said.

The spokesman accused the state of conducting a campaign of political persecution against the organization.

One of the officers said he and his colleagues were not involved in the conflict between the FNLS and the state government.

“We always drove on this highway, we’ve never offended the communities, we didn’t do anything wrong . . .” he said.

Gonzalo Ituarte, a Catholic priest who helped negotiate the officers’ release, said the decision to release them will help resolve the conflict.

The FNLS originally said they would release the hostages in exchange for the release of González, but they did hang on to the confiscated weapons.

Meanwhile, Chiapas prosecutors said earlier this week they would request arrest warrants against members of the FNLS for the theft and arson of 24 police vehicles and delivery trucks belonging to the companies Lala, Grupo Modelo, Pepsi and Sabritas.

Chiapas Attorney General Jorge Luis Llaven Abarca said his office has 113 criminal investigations open into members of the FNLS for crimes including homicide, theft and assault, including the July 26 theft of an armored truck carrying almost 11 billion pesos (US $565 million).

Source: El Universal (sp)

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