On Thursday, October 4th, attorneys for four Mapuche prisoners who were sentenced for a variety of alleged crimes, including attempted murder of police officers, went before the criminal chamber of the Chilean Supreme Court. The attorneys argued for a mistrial and dismissal of the convictions based on a lack of evidence. Additionally, arguments were made to apply the American Convention on Civil Rights and the International Labor Organization Convention 169 on Indigenous Peoples to the prisoners’ prison conditions, which could allow them additional prison privileges. The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision with respect to these issues on October 24, 2012.
Meanwhile, the four Mapuche prisoners – Daniel Levinao Montoya, Paulino Levipán Coyan, Eric Montoya and Rodrigo Montoya — remain on hunger strike. The hunger strike has now surpassed 40 days and, according to a spokesperson for the prisoners, the men have deteriorated physically and are experiencing symptoms of insomnia, cramps and muscle aches. The purpose of the hunger strike is, among other things, to draw attention to the Chilean government’s use of the Antiterrorism Law and the struggle of the Mapuche people to regain their ancestral territories.
The hunger strike began shortly after Daniel Levinao Montoya and Paulino Levipán Coyan were both sentenced on August 13, 2012. On that date they were convicted of attempting to murder Chilean officers during an incident in Ercilla, and for carrying firearms illegally. The alleged attack took place on November 2, 2011, although the Mapuche claimed that no such conflict occurred. The two men were ultimately sentenced to ten years and one day in prison for the attempted murder charge and an additional 541 days for possessing firearms illegally.
The other two hunger strikers — Eric Montoya and Rodrigo Montoya – remain imprisoned in Angol while awaiting their own trial for their alleged role in the same events.