Friday, January 18, 2008

S.Americans Face Biased Trials in European Courts

Recently three cases of abuse against citizens of South American countries that are jailed in Europe have caused the indignation of many in the continent. The first case is that of Ilich Ramirez from Venezuela, that became famous during the 70s and 80s due to his involvement in urban guerrilla operations alongside Palestinian fighters. Ramirez was then known as “Carlos” and became France’s number 1 public enemy due to an incident that occurred in Paris in 1975. The French authorities accuse Ilich Ramirez of being responsible for the death of two Secret Service agents and one Lebanese citizen during a shootout in the apartment where Ramirez was living. In 1994 the French Secret Service tracked down Ramirez to Khartoum, Sudan, and in a questionable covert operation abducted Ramirez from that African country and transferred the Venezuelan in an executive jet to Paris. It was only at his arrival in France that Ramirez was shown the “national arrest warrant” in order to justify that the Venezuelan had been arrested in French territory. From then on Ramirez has been submitted to constant physical and psychological abuse by French police and prison guards, as well as several aggressions by other inmates that most likely are protected by the guards. The latest aggression occurred on December 26,2006 at Clairvaux Prison while Ramirez was speaking by telephone to his lawyer, Isabelle Coutant. Another inmate called Nabil Soltane was allowed to attack Ramirez from behind and caused several cuts and bruises on the Venezuelan’s face with a sharp edged ring. Coutant has declared that this latest incident is just another attempt to murder Ramirez. By some strange coincidence, on January 8, 2007, the French authorities allowed Ramirez to give a phone interview with several news reporters that were in Caracas, and for the first time in decades Ramirez was actually able to answer questions and give his opinion about his situation. Ramirez has declared to the “Venezuelan Repatriation Committee” that is headed by his brother Vladimir, that his release must be obtained by political pressure, and there is hope in many South Americans that “Carlos” will be released in the near future, especially after President Hugo Chavez expressed his support for the Venezuelans citizen’s return.

Another case involving a South American is that of Tito Beltran (42), a Chilean opera singer that moved to Sweden twenty years ago. Such was Beltran´s success in that country that he acquired a considerable fortune and earned the friendship of many Swedes, including the King of that Scandinavian country. At present Beltran is jailed in Ystad accused of having raped a babysitter in 1999. Beltran´s defense lawyer has declared that Beltran´s case is part of xenophobic plot and an attempt by the singer’s former wife to obtain money. It is alleged that Beltran sexually abused the 18 year old after a show in the southern town of Notesjo. In court Beltran did admit that he caressed and kissed the young woman in the hotel bedroom , but that he never had sexual intercourse with her.
According to the prosecutor Anna Hakansson, there is plenty of evidence to convict Tito Beltran.
.“Even if the supposed rape occurred in 1999, this doesn’t mean that we don’t have any evidence, we do have many testimonies that support the version given by the victim,” said Hakansson to La Tercera, a Chilean newspaper. On January 18, Beltran suffered a nervous breakdown in the courtroom as he listened to the declaration by Robert Wells the director of the show in 1999, that denied having been informed about a the sexual abuse that Beltran may have committed against the 18 year old babysitter.

The last case concerns two Chilean students, Rodrigo Ianza and Alex Cisternas and also an Argentinean, Juan Pintos, that are accused of having severely injured a policeman in the City of Barcelona, Spain. On the night of February 4, 2006, a riot occurred in a suburb of that city that ended with a violent clash between local police and several hundred members of the “Okupa”, a youth organization that occupies rundown and vacant houses and use them to carry out cultural activities. Many youngsters were arrested, but it was finally only the South Americans that have remained in jail since then and have been accused by the local court of having attacked the policeman with a rock or a flower pot. Since then the Spanish police officer has been in critical condition in hospital and could either die or remain in permanent coma for the rest of his life. The relatives of the three students have denounced that they have suffered constant physical abuse by the prison guards and have been insulted and discriminated due to their South American origin. The latest court proceeding were also irregular since Spanish police officers entered the courtroom and attacked the relatives of the youngsters, while the Argentine and Chilean consuls could not assist the trail due to the large number of people that were present. After local forensic experts gave evidence that the youths did not have enough physical strength to carry out the damage suffered by the police officer, Alex Cisternas and Juan Pintos were released on January 15, 2008, while Rodrigo Ianza´s fate will be decided during the next days.

The relatives have created a blog to support the “4F prisoners” as they have been called:

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