Margarita’s case re-opened

February 20, 2012  |  News, Peru

A long-running court case of especial interest in Peru has been re-opened.

Some time ago, we reported on the many twists and turns in the case of Margarita Pérez Anchiraica. We also have a striking 12-minute video interview with her (in Spanish, with sub-titles).

Margarita’s story started in 1998 when the mining company Lisandro Proaño S.A. began to dump toxic tailings in the Bosque de Mayoc, causing severe problems for the health of the inhabitants living just 20 metres from the tailings.

In representation of her neighbourhood, Margarita started legal action demanding that the company remove the tailings and compensate the people affected. Three years later, in March 2001, the technical department of the Ministry for Mines suspended the dumping of tailings for violation of environmental law, the legal commitments agreed in the Environmental Impact Assessment and the contamination of water destined for public consumption with lead, arsenic and mercury according to a study by DIGESA.

Margarita’s struggle for compensation continued, a struggle made dangerous by the ferocious persecution directed against her in order to force her to withdraw her action. She was sacked from her job as cleaner in the local council, and received death threats. After the Inter American Commission of Human Rights instigated measures to protect her, the persecution changed to provocation: her electricity was cut off, her house was marked with a black cross, and her family was threatened with sexual abuse.

Margarita did not give up the struggle, despite important documents being inexplicably “lost”. In 2010 the court at last issued its judgement, and absolved Jaime Enrique Rodríguez Mariátegui Proaño (general manager and owner of the mining company) of crimes of environmental contamination. It also classed the crime as prescribed, because of the time elapsed.

Margarita did not accept the verdict, and appealed. In January the Supreme Court in Lima annulled the 2010 sentence and sent the case to another court for a new decision, insisting that it should take into account the available evidence.

Margarita is one of the environmental defenders supported by LAMMP.

The four-page decision of the court (in Spanish legalese) can be viewed here:  1234.

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