A protest march in Chenalhó over a longstanding territorial tiff. A protest march in Chenalhó over a longstanding territorial tiff.

Judge, four clerks released after being held hostage in Chiapas

A judge and four court clerks from Chenalhó, Chiapas, have been released after they were held hostage for 22 hours in the neighboring municipality of Aldama.

Late Monday night, Moisés Pérez Arias, an indigenous peace and conciliation judge, traveled with the four clerks to Aldama to apprehend a man who had been detained while inebriated and carrying ammunition.

But residents of Aldama were waiting and the judge himself was apprehended instead. After their captors demanded 100,000 pesos (US $5,120) in ransom, municipal authorities in Chenalhó declared they had no intention of paying it.

However, the money was paid yesterday evening — by which time it was being described as a fine — and the five hostages were released.

The incident was one more in a years-long territorial conflict between the two municipalities over 59 hectares of land located in Chenalhó. Aldama claims ownership.

Last month, the Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center said gunfights were increasing in number in several towns in Aldama, creating terror among residents and forcing some to flee.

Despite the territorial conflict, authorities on both sides have signed a non-aggression pact as well as an agreement to deliver criminal suspects arrested on either side of the municipal boundary. For that reason the judge traveled to Aldama without any concern.

Source: El Universal (sp), Cuarto Poder (sp)

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