Ex-Hud­bay Min­er­als’s se­cu­rity guard to be re­tried for mur­der in Gu­atemala

Rul­ing co­in­cides with land­mark law­suit by Indige­nous plain­tiffs in Canada

Calgary Herald - - FINANCIAL POST - COLIN PERKEL

A for­mer se­cu­rity guard for a Canadian-owned min­ing com­pany ac­cused of killing an Indige­nous ac­tivist and leav­ing an­other par­a­lyzed will have to face a new mur­der trial, an ap­peal court in Gu­atemala has ruled.

The rul­ing against Mynor Padilla, who was ini­tially ac­quit­ted of mur­der and ag­gra­vated as­sault in April, comes amid an on­go­ing land­mark law­suit against Toronto-based Hud­bay Min­er­als in Canada.

Padilla was charged in the 2009 death of Adolfo Ich and in the shoot­ing of Ger­man Chub, who was left par­a­lyzed at a Hud­bay­owned mine.

Ich’s widow, An­gel­ica Choc, was re­lieved and heart­ened by the ap­peal court de­ci­sion, said Mur­ray Klip­pen­stein, one of her Toronto lawyers, in a state­ment on Fri­day.

The ac­quit­tal in April oc­curred de­spite “damn­ing eye­wit­ness tes­ti­mony” about the mur­der as well as bal­lis­tic and foren­sic ev­i­dence link­ing Padilla and other se­cu­rity staff to the shoot­ing, Klip­pen­stein said.

The killing and shoot­ing are key parts of an on­go­ing law­suit Choc, Chub and 11 other Indige­nous Mayan Q’eqchi launched against Hud­bay Min­er­als in Canada. The claims have re­ceived global at­ten­tion as a prece­dent for hold­ing multi­na­tional min­ing com­pa­nies li­able in their home coun­tries for al­leged abuses at mines op­er­ated abroad.

Hud­bay Min­er­als spokesman was in­no­cent. It has also in­sisted it was be­ing falsely ac­cused of dis­play­ing a pat­tern of hu­man-rights and en­vi­ron­men­tal abuses, and the claims against it were with­out merit.

Padilla, a for­mer rank­ing mem­ber of the Gu­atemalan mil­i­tary, was ar­rested al­most three years af­ter Ich’s death even though a war­rant for his ar­rest was is­sued soon af­ter.

He re­mained on the pay­roll of Hud­bay’s Gu­atemalan sub­sidiary un­til he was taken into cus­tody. It took an­other three years for a trial that lasted a fur­ther two years and from which the pub­lic and me­dia were mostly barred, os­ten­si­bly for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

The prose­cu­tion ar­gued Ich’s killing was an as­sas­si­na­tion, cit­ing foren­sic ev­i­dence he had been at­tacked with a ma­chete and shot in the head at close range.

The law­suit against Hud­bay Min­er­als al­leges shoot­ings and gang rapes oc­curred at a min­ing project once owned by the com­pany. An On­tario court ruled in 2013 the suit could pro­ceed.

Klip­pen­stein called the new Gu­atemalan de­ci­sion “ex­tremely good” for the plain­tiffs. He said their lawyers have been go­ing through about 17,000 in­ter­nal Hud­bay doc­u­ments the courts in Canada or­dered dis­closed to the plain­tiffs.

Ex­am­i­na­tions for dis­cov­ery were ex­pected to be­gin in the com­ing weeks, while sev­eral Gu­atemalans will be com­ing to Canada in Novem­ber to be ques­tioned by Hud­bay’s lawyers, Klip­pen­stein said.

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