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  • Jailed leader Milagro Sala attends a hearing in Jujuy, Dec. 28, 2016.

    Jailed leader Milagro Sala attends a hearing in Jujuy, Dec. 28, 2016. | Photo: EFE

Published 5 April 2017

The Indigenous activist and leader of Tupac Amaru, an organization with some 70,000 members, was arrested on Jan. 16, 2016.

Argentina's Attorney General Alejandra Gils Carbo unexpectedly announced Wednesday that Indigenous activist and lawmaker Milagro Sala has been illegally detained since January 2016 and should be released immediately.

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Gils Carbo was solicited by Sala's defense as part of the extraordinary measure meant to secure Sala's release.

The attorney general added that the previous district courts in the Jujuy department ordered preventive prison with no grounds, basing their decisions on testimonies and hearsay instead of concrete evidence.

One month ago, Sala had a nervous breakdown in jail and stabbed herself after receiving a set of three new accusations after already suffering one year of preventive detention.

Political authorities of Jujuy have accused Sala of embezzlement and alleged she used "authoritarian and violent methods" while running community initiatives and leading social protests. "She stole everything," said Jujuy Governor Gerardo Morales.

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Argentines Denied Access to Sala Hearing, Arrested Instead

Sala was arrested on Jan. 16, 2016, after staging a month-long sit-in against the local government’s neoliberal policies under Morales, an ally of President Mauricio Macri. She faced charges of inciting crime and turmoil, which were later dropped. But before she could be released, a new warrant was handed down for charges of illicit association, fraud and extortion.

As leader of Tupac Amaru, an organization with some 70,000 members, Sala runs social housing and other community-led projects and has been a key player in organizing the resistance against austerity policies.

The United Nations and the Organization of American States requested last year that the Macri government immediately release Sala. The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention also said it was an "arbitrary detention."

Sala is also a representative in Parlasur, the parliament of the South America subcontinental bloc Mercosur, a position she has not been able to fulfill as a result of being jailed.

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