Two México state men who have been held in prison for 17 years while awaiting trial will soon be released, a judge ruled on Monday.
Judge Felipe Landero Herrero ruled that Daniel García Rodríguez and Reyes Alpízar Ortiz, who were arrested for a murder in 2001 but never went to trial, will be released while the legal process continues. They will be required to wear electronic geolocation bracelets and check in with authorities every 15 days.
The organization Pena Sin Culpa celebrated the ruling and the new legal interpretation made by Judge Landero, calling it “transcendental and historic.”
“The release of Daniel and Reyes is a step forward for the achievement of justice and the fulfillment of human rights recommendations from international bodies,” the organization said in a press release.
García and Rodríguez have been held in preventative custody longer than anyone else in Mexico and the western hemisphere. If they are convicted, they face a maximum sentence of 15 years and eight months, shorter than the time they have already spent behind bars.
In a phone interview with the newspaper Reforma, García called it an “atrocity.”
“The use of preventative prison is an atrocity, it’s prehistoric, it shouldn’t happen in the modern world,” he said. “The ministers of the court have contributed to the continued use of the practice. No one should be punished without having been convicted of a crime.”
However, the criminal case against the two men is not over. García promised that he will cooperate with the process and the conditions of his release.
“If they demonstrate that we are guilty, and we need to go back to prison, that’s how it will be,” he said. “But if not, at the moment we are found innocent we will demand the reparation of the harm done to us, and an apology from the Mexican state.”