Prosecutors charged 14 farmers on Sunday for their alleged involvement in the violent clashes between police and landless peasants in Curuguaty on 15th June. The shootout left 17 dead and triggered the controversial impeachment of then-president Fernando Lugo.
The charges include murder, criminal association and land invasion, with prosecutors claiming the farmers opened fire on a police unit ordered to evict them from the contested land. Charges against three other farmers were dropped.
State prosecutor Jalil Amir Rachid said the police, some of whom were unarmed, were ambushed when they moved in to carry out the eviction order. Defence lawyers for the accused claim the initial shots were fired by snipers not associated with the peasant group.
A coalition of opposition political parties and social organisations, Frente Guasu, criticised the official investigation in a press conference today, saying it lacked “seriousness and impartiality.”
An alternative investigation conducted by the Platform of Research on Peasant Conflicts (PEICC), released in October, alleged that after the initial shootout police executed several wounded peasants while medical treatment was denied to others.
Prominent peasant leader Vidal Vega, who was a key witness to the events in Curuguaty and contributed to the PEICC report, was shot and killed by unknown gunmen on 1st December.
On 10th December, the International Day of Human Rights, the UN called on the government to investigate and clarify what happened on 15th June as well as the murder of Vega.