Francisca Linconao, one of the 11 Mapuche under investigation for a 2013 double homicide of Wener Luchsinger and Vivianne Mackay, has fled to Bolivia in search of asylum from president Evo Morales.
Despite her impending February court date, the Mapuche woman took advantage of her last month of freedom to petition international intervention, denouncing the case as unfair.
Linconao and eight of her tribesman were held in pretrial detention until November for allegedly killing Luchsinger and Mackay in their home on Jan. 4, 2013, following a demonstration commemorating the 5th anniversary of the death of Mapuche activist Matias Catrileo.
Eleven Mapuche were arrested and charged after a lengthy four-year investigation. The Chilean Criminal Court acquitted the indigenous community members on November 14 for insufficient evidence.
The group narrowly avoided a hefty prison sentence for what was considered a "terrorist attack" that would have started at a minimum of 40 years before assessing penitentiary conditions. Members have continuously claimed their innocence since the trial began last August.
However, Jorge Luchsinger MacKay, the son of the murdered couple, contested the court’s ruling in December, requesting the Court of Appeals annul the acquittal and reopen the investigation.
Linconao, a Machi renowned for her defense of native forests, criticized Chilean authorities for reopening the case, reminding the court that she had already been declared innocent.
"The rich people have justice because they have money, they buy it from the judges, and that's why they are doing this; it's very unfair," said Linconao.
Lawyer and Secretary of the Faculty of Law of the University of Santiago Luis Bobadilla told Publimetro that the indigenous activist stands a chance to win asylum if she claims political persecution or the court’s failure to provide a fair trial.
"I believe that if she asks for asylum, Evo will give it to her," deputy Jorge Tarud, a member of the Commission on Foreign Relations of the Chamber agreed.
From the Public Prosecutor’s Office, Judge Jorge Abbott said that though no obstacles were barring Linconao’s trip, if the accused fails to appear in court her extradition will be requested.
The machi’s spokeswoman, Ingrid Conejeros reassured that this would not be necessary and her client will return by February 26 to testify.