Ice-cream seller faces 21 years in prison for being caught on camera

The media team’s been particularly busy in responding to today’s news surrounding the changing events in Afghanistan in the run up to Thursday’s elections and also the Home Office’s disclosure on the number of Tasers.  Amnesty’s Afghanistan researcher has commented in today’s Independent and we have also responded to the increase in the number of times Tasers have been used in the UK since 2004.

Away from the media spotlight however is the case of one Mexican Indigenous woman who Amnesty International has today declared a prisoner of conscience after she was unfairly jailed for 21 years for allegedly kidnapping six agents.

Before her arrest and imprisonment three years ago, mother of six Jacinta Marcial was an ice cream seller working in a market in Santiago Mexquititlán. She happened to be working on a day when tensions flared between vendors in the marketplace and six plainclothes federal agents who visited the market to investigate the selling of pirate DVDs.

The officers allegedly tried to confiscate some goods and some of the vendors slashed the tyres of the agents’ vehicles to prevent them from leaving without compensating them for their damaged goods.   The officers later filed a complaint against the vendors to suggest they had tried to kidnap them.

They had no evidence to suggest that Jacinta Marcial could be involved in this and had not mentioned her in their original statements.

The only evidence against Jacinta was a photograph in the local newspaper taken when she was walking behind the crowd of protestors. That was enough for the officers to accuse Jacinta of involvement in the alleged crime.  

Following an unfair trial Jacinta was given 21 years in prison. Amnesty believes that her imprisonment has been allowed to happen because of the second-class treatment awarded to Indigenous people in Mexico.

Just last month, the country’s National Human Rights Commission concluded that there were serious irregularities and fabricated evidence in Jacinta's case and at the moment Jacinta is waiting to see if she will be granted a re-trial.  While this offers a glimmer of hope for Jacinta, Amnesty International believes that she should not be in prison at all and is calling for her immediate and unconditional release.

You can read more about this case here.

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