Hundreds have marched in several Chilean cities to protest against the Luchsinger-Mackay case, one of the most controversial in the recent history of the Mapuche territorial and cultural conflicts.
People marched in Temuco, Concepcion, San Antonio and the capital Santiago on Thursday to demand the release of Jose Tralcal Coche, Luis Tralcal Quidel and Celestino Cordova, convicted of murdering the couple in an arson attack at their home.
In Concepcion, central Chile, one of the organizers read a statement by the Tralcals, who were sentenced to life in prison: "On June 11, 2018, we were unjustly sentenced to life in prison on terrorism charges, which actually means 20 years in prison, mainly due to a fake confession signed by Jose Peralino under torture."
Charges against 11 of the Mapuche accused in the Luchsinger-Mackay case were dropped in October 2017 due to lack of evidence and irregularities in the trial, but after Sebastian Piñera was sworn in as Chile's president in January 2018, the case was reopened – with exactly the same evidence.
Jose Peralino, one of the convicted Mapuche, was given five years' probation in exchange for collaborating with authorities, but he has since said his confession was obtained under torture and threat of death.
Machi Francisca Linconao was sentenced several times in connection with the case after prosecutors claimed she was one of the masterminds behind the arson attack, but those claims have since been overturned.
She has now been released, and called the legal proceedings a form of political persecution against her and her fellow Mapuche.
Similar arguments were also used to convict the Tracals, including evidence of alleged phone calls wirh Peralino.
Police claim to have intercepted phone messages, but the telecommunications company has been unable to confirm the exact location at which the phone calls were made. It also said the phone numbers under investigation did not appear to belong to the accused.
Peralino was also accused of trying to topple a communications antenna in the Rahue mountain. Prosecutors recorded a phone call in which he allegedly admits the crime, but the Investigative Police (PDI) dismissed the claim and said the call had been misinterpreted as a confession when in fact he was just trying to impress his girlfriend.
In their statement, Luis and Jose Tralcals claim prosecutors, investigators and judges are trying to bring the case to a premature close, evidence notwithstanding.
"Today in Chile the due process is not respected," the statement reads. "Today in Chile innocent people are being convicted. Today in Chile there's torture. Today in Chile criminals are not being convicted; they convict ideologies, ideologies of dignity."
Machi Celestino Cordova, another convicted Mapuche in the case, is now in critical condition after going on hunger strike to demand a 48-hour leave from prison in order to visit his Rewe, a community spiritual totem, to renew his energy as part of an Indigenous healing ceremony.