Archived Story - Brownsville Herald: Local News

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Archived Story

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, May 31, 2002 12:00 am

Mexican appeals court overturns acquittal of two in killing of journalist

MEXICO CITY (AP) An appeals court in the western state of Jalisco on

Thursday overturned the acquittal of two Huichol Indians in the 1998 killing

of U.S. journalist Philip True, and sentenced them to 13 years in prison, the

minimum sentence for intentional homicide.

Thursdays unanimous ruling by the three-judge Jalisco State Superior Tribunal

followed a years-long struggle by Trues widow and his newspaper, the San

Antonio Express-News, to bring his killers to justice and another campaign,

led by an American expatriate, to win the Indians acquittal.

The defense lawyers had distorted Trues image, and we are very happy to see

that he has been revindicated, said Jorge Ochoa, a lawyer who represented

Trues widow, Martha, during the appeals process.

True, 50, disappeared in early December 1998 during a 100-mile hike through a

remote mountain range of the Huichol indigenous group. A search party found

his body on Dec. 16 inside his sleeping bag and buried in a shallow grave at

the bottom of a deep ravine.

Chivarra and Hernandez, two Huichol Indians, were detained after authorities

discovered they had the journalists camera and backpack. They initially

admitted killing True, but later retracted their confessions and claimed

soldiers had tortured them.

Defense lawyers had claimed that True may have been drinking during his hike

and simply fallen to his death. Trues family and friends called that

improbable, saying he seldom drank and could not have carried alcohol on the

grueling, difficult hike.

The case was marked by the difficulty of retrieving forensic evidence from

Trues badly decomposed remains, and conflicting interpretations of the

evidence. Prosecutors appealed the August 2001 acquittal, arguing the evidence

proved them two men strangled and beat True to death on a mountain path.

The defendants cause was taken up by American expatriate Miguel Gatins, who

claimed they had been framed because they were Indians. Gatins paid some of

the mens legal costs.

He suggested that Trues burial in a shallow grave may have been part of a

Huichol funeral right, rather than an attempt to hide evidence. The real

loser is the Mexican judicial system, which didnt have the guts to do the

right thing, Gatins said of Thursdays ruling.

The tribunal let stand the acquittal of Chivarra and Hernandez on charges of

robbery.

The two men have exhausted their recourse for appeals on the homicide charge,

but their lawyer, Arturo Zamora, said he would file for a federal injunction

against their re-arrest, arguing their constitutional rights had been

violated.

That injunction would block prosecutors from ordering the reapprehension of

the two, who spent two years in jail during the first trial and were released

after the acquittal.

I dont know where they are, Zamora said of his clients. They call me on

the telephone every three or four months.

Speaking by telephone from Guadalajara, 280 miles west of Mexico City, Zamora

claimed the mens acquittal of robbery which prosecutors had argued was the

motive in the killing made their conviction illogical.

Trues death at the hands of the Huichols was doubly tragic, given that, as

Express-News Editor Robert Rivard said, he was a journalist with a great love

of Huichol culture that wanted to explore it further.

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Follow us on Facebook

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>




Online Features

Pet Central

pets

Having a pet is a lot of responsibility, and we’ll help by giving you lots of tips and tricks! More >>

Fitness

Fitness

Our fitness articles will help teach you how to work out with gym- and home-based exercises. More >>

Crosswords

Crosswords

Enjoy the crosswords challenge in our free daily puzzles, from the harder Sunday crossword to the quicker daily. More >>

Sudoku

Sudoku

Every Sudoku has a unique solution that can be reached logically. Enter numbers into the blank spaces so that each row, column and 3x3 box contains the numbers 1 to 9. More >>