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LATIN AMERICA | 16-02-2022 10:57

Chile's top court overturns ruling freeing Mapuche leader Facundo Jones Huala

Supreme Court in Chile overturns ruling granting parole to controversial indigenous leader, who has been behind bars since 2018.

Chile's Supreme Court on Tuesday overturned a ruling by a lower court granting parole to  Mapuche leader Facundo Jones Huala, who was sentenced to six years in prison for arson and illegal possession of weapons.

By four votes to one, Chile’s highest court "revoked the sentence handed down by the Temuco Court of Appeals and rejected the granting of parole to Francisco Facundo Jones Huala."

The indigenous leader who will have to return to prison, said the ruling released by the Judiciary.

Jones Huala, the leader of the Resistencia Ancestral Mapuche (RAM) indigenous Mapuche movement in Patagonia, was granted conditional release by the Temuco Court of Appeals in Chile’s south on January 21 following a petition by his defence team for his reintegration "into his socio-cultural environment."

The Supreme Court, which accepted an appeal filed by the Chilean government seeking to revoke the Argentine leader's freedom on parole, found that his indigenous heritage was insufficient grounds alone to justify his release and that "progress in his social reintegration process" had not been made.

Jones Huala was convicted in 2018 as the perpetrator of an arson attack of the Pisu Pisué hacienda located in the commune of Río Bueno, in the Los Ríos Region (900 km south of Santiago) and the illegal possession of firearms, crimes both committed in 2013. 

The Mapuche leader was arrested in Argentina in June 2017 after two years on the run as a fugitive from Chilean justice. Authorities in the neighbouring country had requested his international capture from Interpol in 2015.

Following his arrest, then-Argentine president Mauricio Macri ordered his extradition after the Supreme Court upheld Chile's request.

The regions of Biobío, Los Ríos and La Araucanía in southern Chile have seen several arson attacks on private properties and trucks by radical indigenous groups in the context of a centuries-old conflict in which the Mapuche are demanding land that they claim as their ancestral right and which the Chilean state handed over mainly to forestry companies.

The first inhabitants of Chile and part of Argentina, the Mapuche ("people of the earth" in their native language) number some 700,000 on Chilean soil, out of some 17 million inhabitants of the country.

 

– TIMES/AFP
 

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