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News > Latin America

Bid to Bring Curuguaty Massacre Case to International Courts

  • Man walks with son in front of memorial for the 11 townspeople killed during the land conflict in 2012.

    Man walks with son in front of memorial for the 11 townspeople killed during the land conflict in 2012. | Photo: Efe

Published 14 June 2017
Opinion

The political fallout following the incident is said to have cost the former President Fernando Lugo his term in office.

As the fifth anniversary of the Curuguaty Massacre nears, defense Attorney Jorge Bogarín has given Paraguay's Supreme Court an ultimatum; reopen the investigation or he will take the case to higher international jurisdiction.

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The incident resulted in both loss of life and the impeachment of the nation's former President Fernando Lugo.

On June 15, 2012, 300 heavily-armed police officers stormed into Marina Kue in the Curuguaty district in an attempt to evict 70 rural farmworkers who had occupied the land. The landless workers asserted that the territory belonged to the state after former dictator Alfredo Stroessner passed it to its new owner, Blas Riquelme.

The conflict, swiftly turned violent and resulted in the deaths of 17 people, 11 campesinos and six policemen.

Bogarin, a lawyer for 10 of the 11 defendents, states he has exhausted every legal avenue in his attempts to acquire justice for the 11 farmers blamed for the deaths of the officers.

The attorney has submitted the case numerous times, most recently to the Paraguayan Chamber of Appeals only to have it rejected repeatedly.

After waiting 10 months, the defense lawyer was told administrators decided to stand by their prior decision, leaving the deaths of the 11 farmers as a “pending state matter.”

Bogarin said “This delay conspires against justice, because the justice that comes late is not justice. Judicial delays are a real scourge that undermines the foundations of democratic institutions, and it is the pending issue of the Judiciary if it wants to regain its credibility”.

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Paraguay's Curuguaty Massacre: A Pretext for a Coup

The court proceedings in the wake of the massacre were heavily criticized.

Prosecutors bypassed appeals to investigate the deaths of the 11 farmers, instead focusing on justice for the officers who had been killed.

But critics say they failed to question conflicting testimonies from witnesses as well as claims from the townspeople of torture, evidence tampering and allegations of police brutality.

Bogarín and other state attorneys argue that the number of discrepancies in the handling of the case would be sufficient to overturn the sentences completely.

"In the judgment in the Curuguaty case there were numerous circumstances that would lead to the annulment of the process, such as the manipulation of the crime scene, but these were not analyzed by the Chamber," said the lawyer.

The political fallout from the case cost the president his office.

Fernando Lugo was ousted after being impeached by the country's Congress.

Officially he was deposed because he was held responsible for the massacre. But to this day Lugo's supporters claim the affair was orchestrated by his opponents to provide an excuse to get rid of him.

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