The Prosecutor’s Office of Chile’s La Araucanía region wants to imprison Héctor Llaitul for 25 years. Llaitul, a key figure of Mapuche organization CAM was detained in August. Some charges he faces were filed under the controversial state security law.
Chilean prosecutors have closed their investigation into Héctor Llaitul, spokesperson for Mapuche organization CAM, asking for a 25-year prison sentence.
Llaitul is being accused of five crimes, among which incitement of violence, theft, and violence against authorities.
CAM fights for the reconstitution of ancestral Mapuche lands that were stolen by the state. Its members do not believe this goal can be achieved through negotiations, only through force.
The prosecutor claimed to have interviewed over 70 witnesses and gathered other evidence which will be presented in court. A trial date has not been set yet. Several charges against Llaitul were filed under the state security law, introduced during the Pinochet dictatorship to silence opponents, but reformed by subsequent governments, which have applied it regularly.
Llaitul’s lawyer, Rodrigo Román, told CNN Chile that the prosecution’s emphasis on the law suggests authorities know they only have a weak case. Román also alleged evidence was lacking. “In the oral trial there was not a single witness, not a single piece of evidence, absolutely nothing that links Héctor Llaitul to the crimes,” Román said. “The political discourse in his capacity as spokesman for a Mapuche organization in resistance … does not constitute a crime. Even less crimes under the state security law.”
Currently, Llaitul is awaiting trial in a Concepción prison, where he joined a hunger strike of other Mapuche prisoners, among them his son Ernesto.
In response to the accusations presented by the Prosecutor’s Office, government spokeswoman Camila Vallejo told a press conference that “there is a separation of powers of the state and we obviously respect the process of the institution that is responsible for justice.”
For opposition members who represent southern constituencies the case is clear, though. “It seems to me that 25 years are little for the damage he has caused to many families, people who have lost their work, their home, their life,” Andrés Jouannet, member of centrist Amarillos party, said in a statement.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.