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Former radio director and indigenous leader detained, accused of terrorism and sabotage

(Fundamedios/IFEX) - On 1 February 2011, José Acacho, the former director of the La Voz de Arutam radio station and leader of the Shuar Federation, was detained by police near the city of Macas - 366 km east of Quito - as part of the proceedings being carried out against him after he was accused of sabotage and terrorism because he allegedly used the radio station to instigate public protests.

A Macas Court of Justice acting judge issued a preventive prison sentence against Acacho and two indigenous leaders, Pedro Mashian and Fidel Kaniras, who are suspected of committing sabotage, murder and acts of terrorism during an indigenous uprising that took place on 30 September 2009. The protests resulted in the death of teacher Bosco Wisum and left 40 soldiers wounded.

According to recent statements made by Acacho and published by the "El Universo" newspaper before he was detained, "the process initiated against him is clear evidence of government persecution insofar as it suffers from serious procedural errors . . ."

While the indigenous leader remains detained at the Macas Police Command headquarters, several social organizations and the Indigenous Nationalities' Confederation (CONAIE) have condemned his arrest and have announced that there will be demonstrations against it.

CONAIE stated in a press release that it categorically condemns the President of the Republic's overbearing and arrogant attitude, expressed via the actions of the Prosecutor's Office, the police and the Army in the persecution of indigenous peoples' leaders under the pretext of an accusation of sabotage and terrorism, without providing proof to back up the accusation."

It is worth noting that on 17 December 2009, the National Telecommunications Council decided to cancel the license of La Voz de Arutam because of its alleged instigation of the armed uprising and the events that took place during the indigenous population's protests in the Amazon region. The measure, however, was revoked when it was proven that the audio broadcasts had not been properly translated from the Shuar language.

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