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Judge shelves case against native leader

(Fundamedios/IFEX) – 9 December 2011 – On 7 December 2011, Judge Wilson Lozada, of the Fourteenth Penal Guarantees Court of Pichincha, shelved the case presented by Vinicio Alvarado, National Public Administration Secretary, against native leader and former government official Monica Chuji. This is despite the fact that on 25 November, the same judge sentenced Chuji to 12 months in prison and the payment of US$100,000 in damages.

The judge's latest decision is in response to a pardon that Alvarado granted Chuji so that "she will not have to pay one cent" or spend any time in prison. However, Chuji rejected the pardon, stating that she is innocent and did not commit any crime, and therefore has no need for the pardon.

Chuji told Fundamedios that the issue will not end there. "We have not been given the right to defend ourselves. They are filing the case after a sentence was issued and the appeal for the annulment we presented has not been taken into account, and neither have all the documents we showed".

Chuji confirmed that she will file an appeal so that the case escalates to the national and international level. Chuji believes that from a political standpoint, there is an intention to silence her. "The case is out of their hands," the native leader emphasized.

The dispute began in February 2011. In an interview with "El Comercio" newspaper, Chuji said that Alvarado was one of the "government's nouveau riche". On 15 April, the Fourteenth Penal Guaranties Court accepted the case for trial after Alvarado filed a lawsuit against her.

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