Supreme Court Reverses Two Mapuche Convictions; Hunger Strike Ends After 60 Days

On Wednesday, October 24th, the Chilean Supreme Court unanimously overturned the convictions of two Mapuche men who had been charged with the attempted murder of Chilean police officers. The convictions were overturned on the grounds that evidence was lacking at the lower court level to prove attempted murder. Although the two men were not completely absolved of all crimes, the ruling was well-received and, on Thursday, the men called an end to their hunger strike that had been in progress for 60 days.

This case involved the convictions of two Mapuche men — Daniel Levinao Montoya and Paulino Levipán Coyán — who were charged with and convicted of the attempted murder of Chilean police officers. Two other Mapuche men – Eric Montoya and Rodrigo Montoya — were also arrested for their roles in that same incident and are awaiting trial. The alleged attack took place on November 2, 2011, although the Mapuche claimed that no such conflict occurred.

Together, all four men began a hunger strike shortly after Daniel Levinao Montoya and Paulino Levipán Coyan were both sentenced on August 13, 2012.   At that time, 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. Their hunger strike continued for 60 days until Thursday, October 25th, when the strike was terminated due to the positive ruling at the Supreme Court level.

The Chilean Supreme Court did not eliminate all charges against Levinao and Levipán, but did vacate the convictions on the grounds of attempted murder. For Levinao, the Supreme Court vacated the attempted murder conviction, but upheld a conviction on the grounds that Levinao illegally possessed a firearm. The sentencing for that crime will require a new trial. Levipán, on the other hand, had his conviction reduced from attempted murder to that of assault. This change allowed Levipán to be freed from prison immediately and placed on three years of probation with no further legal action pending.

The Chilean Supreme Court’s decision can be found here.

See the articles linked in this story and additional Indigenous headlines by clicking here (updated daily).

Posted in: Chile, Mapuche
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