Mexico pardons indigenous teacher jailed 13 years


| Zoom

MEXICO CITY (AP) - An indigenous teacher who human rights groups say was unjustly imprisoned for 13 years received a promised pardon Thursday from President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Alberto Patishtan Gomez was the first person pardoned by Pena Nieto under a recent change in Mexico's penal code that broadened a president's grounds for granting pardons.

The president had announced late Tuesday that he would free Patishtan, and Interior Secretary Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said Thursday that Pena Nieto ordered the teacher be released from prison immediately.

"We identified evidence of consistent human rights violations, particularly during the legal process," Osorio Chong said.

Patishtan was detained in June 2000 and charged with participating in the ambush and killing of seven police officers in the southern state of Chiapas, home to the Zapatista rebel uprising.

The newly approved law published Wednesday allows the president to pardon prisoners "when there are consistent indications of grave human rights violations" against them. The code already allowed some other kinds of limited presidential pardons.

Shortly after being released, Patishtan maintained his innocence.

"They wanted to finish me, but I'm innocent before God and in my own eyes," he said at a news conference.

Now 43, Patishtan was being held at the National Institute of Neurology, where he was transferred from prison to undergo treatment for a brain tumor. He was serving a 60-year sentence for charges associated with the ambush, including murder.

He said he was simply participating in protests in a state marked by the emergence of the Zapatista rebel movement. He said that it was the mayor of a Chiapas town who incriminated him unfairly and that he did not have the resources to defend himself against the charges.

Amnesty International and other rights groups have said the case against Patishtan was plagued with irregularities.

Mexican courts refused to overturn the conviction and sentence, saying defense lawyers didn't provide sufficient evidence. Mexico's Supreme Court refused to hear the case.


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Top Stories

  • Uber Upset
    Jason Rantz pokes holes in driver's discrimination claim against Uber

  • The Principal's Office
    Somebody's in trouble - lawmakers have to face the State Supreme Court for a lack of action
ATTENTION COMMENTERS: We've changed our comments, but want to keep you in the conversation.
Please login below with your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Disqus account. Existing MyNorthwest account holders will need to create a new Disqus account or use one of the social logins provided below. Thank you.
comments powered by Disqus
Sign up for breaking news e-mail alerts from MyNorthwest.com
In the community
Do you know a student who stands out in the classroom, school and community?
Help make their dreams come true by nominating them for a $1,000 scholarship and a chance to earn a $10,000 Grand Prize. Brought to you by KIRO Radio and Comprehensive Wealth Management.

Do you know an exceptional citizen who has impacted and inspired others?
KIRO Radio and WSECU would like to recognize six oustanding citizens this year. Nominate them to be recognized and to receive a $2,000 charitable grant.