An emotional Sánchez with family members after his release from jail. An emotional Sánchez and supporters after his release from jail.

Flaws in investigation cost nearly 8 years

Court orders man's release after he spent 7 years, 10 months behind bars

It took seven years, 10 months and four days but justice was finally served yesterday for one México state man.

Sergio Sánchez Arellano was arbitrarily detained by Mexico City investigative police in March 2010 for his alleged involvement in a murder and attempted robbery.

He remained imprisoned for nearly eight years but following a ruling yesterday by a federal court, he was released.

While detained, Sánchez was beaten and threatened in an attempt to force him to make an incriminating confession.

But the indigenous Mazahua man, who made a living selling candy on the streets of Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, didn’t succumb to the brutality.

However, despite maintaining his innocence and a case based on questionable evidence provided by a single witness, Sánchez was convicted of the murder of a university student outside the Tacuba Metro station in the north of Mexico City.

He was sentenced to 27 years and six months in prison.

However, in October last year, Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled that the accused’s right to the presumption of innocence had not been respected in the case and identified other serious flaws in the police investigation.

It sent the case to the Ninth Collegiate Criminal Court where yesterday’s ruling was handed down.

“The court decrees the immediate liberty of the complainant,” said presiding Judge Emma Meza Fonseca as members of Sánchez’s family, lawyers and representatives of human rights’ organizations hung on every word.

In addition to granting the amparo, or injunction that freed Sánchez, Meza said that there should be an investigation into the allegations of torture that he reported.

Shortly after the decision was made, the newspaper Reforma reported that Sánchez said, “It’s a dream for me, I can’t believe it. I’ve been born again. Thank you, God.”

Human rights representatives who were present in the court shared Sánchez’s relief but also highlighted that the decision took too long to make.

“It’s a relief that this decision has arrived. Unfortunately, it comes very late . . . but at least it’s a decision that complies with Mexico’s obligations under international law,” said Amnesty International (AI) researcher Carlos Zazueta.

“It should have been the judge in the first judicial authority that released Sergio,” added Gabriela Carrión Lee, a lawyer at the human rights organization Center Prodh.

In a news release, the AI Americas director said that Sánchez’s release “is undoubtedly a step towards justice but there is still a long way to go in order to guarantee reparations for the damages caused in this case and to prevent such cases from recurring.”

Erika Guevara Rosas also said that the “case is a tragic illustration of the risk of being arbitrarily detained in Mexico.”

“Arbitrary detentions by the police are an everyday occurrence in the country and create states of impunity in which further human rights violations such as torture, forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions can take place,” she added.

AI completed field research in Chilpancingo, Guerrero, in December which confirmed that at least five enforced disappearances had occurred there following two separate incidents involving municipal and state police in the last week of 2017. One AI researcher concluded that “no one is safe in Chilpancingo.”

Last week, a teenage student also disappeared after a seemingly arbitrary arrest in Mexico City. Five days after his arrest, Marco Antonio Sánchez was found disoriented and hurt almost 30 kilometers from where he was first detained.

Source: Reforma (sp)

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