Chile‘s police watchdog has confirmed that military police forged evidence on which they based accusations of terrorism against Mapuche activists, according to a report handed to judicial authorities on Monday.
Mapuche Resistance March Against Repression, Arrests, Murders
The daily La Tercera, which accessed the document, reports that the so-called ‘Antorcha’ program created by Alex Smith, which police claimed they used to wire alleged communications sent between Mapuche leaders, never existed.
As a result, "all the alleged reports issued by ‘Antorcha’… do not come from a program able to provide information on its own, but consists of texts written directly from an email account of Microsoft Outlook 15.0, which was set up on the computer of the suspect (Alex Smith)," the report states.
Smith invented the reports and also "possibly simulated wiring the conversations, the geolocalization based on coordinates and the photography," the report states.
The report comes more than a year after the regional prosecutor in La Aracaunia released eight Mapuche activists in January 2017, after police had accused them of belonging to a terrorist organization.
The prosecutor, Cristian Paredes, suspected the militarized police of having forged the intelligence data, while the Interior Ministry supported the police version of events.
Earlier on Sunday, the Chilean government came under heavy criticism after three other Mapuche leaders were sentenced to prison under the controversial anti-terrorist bill.
They were jailed in connection with the Luchsinger Mackay case of Werner Luchsinger, 75, and Vivianne Mackay, 69, the couple who died in the ‘terrorist’ arson attack carried out by hooded assailants in January 2013 in Temuco.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, based in Washington D.C., has already condemned Chile for applying the anti-terrorist bill against Mapuche leaders.
The law, established during Chile’s 1973-1990 military dictatorship, allows state prosecutors to define as terrorism a variety of acts – including arson, destroying private property and clashing with police – and bring harsh sentences.
In January, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, warned that activists campaigning to protect their land from mining, logging, dams and other development projects were increasingly being criminalized.
She cited the case of Chile’s Indigenous Mapuche people involved in a long-running and often violent struggle with the government to reclaim their lands in the country’s south.
However, President Sebastian Piñera signed last month an amended version of the bill allowing the government to send in well-armed, military-style police to attack and arrest unarmed Mapuche protesters in Temuco, 845 km south of Santiago.
The 11 changes allow the government to use drones, undercover agents, GPS tracking, and phone tapping against those it suspects of terrorism. The legislation also broadens the definition of ‘terrorist’ to include individuals, not just associations.