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Officers charged for mine torture
3/25/2009
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State prosecutor charges police officers for torturing opponents to copper mine, but drops charges against their superiors.

A state prosecutor on March 17 charged a group of police officers with torturing more than two dozen opponents to a giant copper project in northern Peru.

The charges stem from a 2005 demonstration against the Rio Blanco copper project, run by the UK-based Monterrico Minerals, in Peru´s Piura department. The mine, which is expected to be one of the world´s largest copper deposits once it is developed, has been met with widespread opposition from the local community and environmentalists, who say it will destroy local agriculture and the area´s cloud forest flora and fauna.

Earlier this year, Peru´s Human Rights Coordinating Group and the Ecumenical Foundation for Development and Peace, or Fedepaz, released photographs showing the protesters tied up, some with plastic bags over their heads. A total of 28 protesters were said to have been tortured and kidnapped.

Prosecutor Juan Ortiz Arévalo said the police officers superiors, including police colonels and a general, were not charged, to the outrage of some of Peru´s human rights organizations.

“We´re talking about an operation here,” said Rosa Quedena, a lawyer for Fedepaz.

She said, however, that some evidence showed that the police officers were responding to orders from superiors after the company, which then ran the project under the name Majaz, called for support during the demonstration. Charges against the mine were not filed. Chinese mining giant Zijin Mining Group Co. took over Monterrico in 2007, and in turn, the project.

In 2007, residents of three communities near the site held a non-binding vote and overwhelmingly rejected the mine.

Mining in northern Peru has been met with strong opposition. Residents of the Piura village of Tambogrande drove out junior Canadian miner Manhattan Minerals from a gold project there, citing the important mango and lemon producing land the mine would take over.
—Latinamerica Press.


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