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Case History: Juan Carlos Flores Solís

Status: 
Facing Charges
About the situation

On 25 August 2017, the First District Court of Tlaxcala, in Mexico, confirmed the arrest warrants issued on 6 May 2014 for human rights defenders Juan Carlos Flores Solis, Adela Villalba Ramos, Eusebio Aguilar Torres, and Alejandro Torres Chocolatl for allegedly committing the crimes of ‘illegal deprivation of liberty with aggravated violence against a public servant’ and ‘belonging to a gang’.

About Juan Carlos Flores Solís

Juan Carlos Flores SolisJuan Carlos Flores Solís is a member of Frente de Pueblos en Defensa del Agua y de la Tierra de Morelos, Puebla y Tlaxcala – FPDATMPT (The People's Front in Defence of the Water and Earth of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala). FPDATMPT works together with Nahua communities to protect the rights of 22 communities potentially affected by various large-scale developments in the area, including the proposed construction of a gas pipeline through their community (Proyecto Integral Morelos).

 

31 August 2017
Ongoing criminalisation of four human rights defenders

On 25 August 2017, the First District Court of Tlaxcala, in Mexico, confirmed the arrest warrants issued on 6 May 2014 for human rights defenders Juan Carlos Flores Solis, Adela Villalba Ramos, Eusebio Aguilar Torres, and Alejandro Torres Chocolatl for allegedly committing the crimes of ‘illegal deprivation of liberty with aggravated violence against a public servant’ and ‘belonging to a gang’.

Juan Carlos Flores Solís, Adela Villalba Ramos, Eusebio Aguilar Torres, and Alejandro Torres Chocolatl are members of Frente de Pueblos en Defensa del Agua y de la Tierra de Morelos, Puebla y Tlaxcala – FPDATMPT (The People's Front in Defence of the Water and Earth of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala). The organisation works together with Nahua communities to protect the rights of 29 communities affected by various large-scale developments in the area, including the proposed construction of a gas pipeline through their community (Proyecto Integral Morelos). The developments are supported by the Italian company Bonatti S.p.A. and the Spanish companies Abengoa, Elecnor and Enegas. FPDATMPT opposes the pipeline as it will be constructed in the vicinity of the volcano Popocatépetl, which could pose a serious risk to the inhabitants of the region.

On 25 August 2017,  the First District Court of Tlaxcala, in Mexico, confirmed the arrest warrants issued on 6 May 2014 in the case 19/2014 (now case 773/2015) against human rights defenders Juan Carlos Flores Solis, Adela Villalba Ramos, Eusebio Aguilar Torres, and Alejandro Torres Chocolatl. They are charged with  ‘illegal deprivation of liberty with aggravated violence against public servant’ and ‘belonging to a gang’. The human rights defenders and members of FPDATMPT have been facing judicial harassment since 2012 in connection with their legitimate human rights activities opposing extractive industries in the region.

Juan Carlos Flores Solis' arrest on 7 April 2014 occurred shortly after he submitted a complaint to the Puebla State Commission on Human Rights regarding the detention of fellow human rights defender, Enedina Rosas Veleza, arrested on 6 April 2014. On 23 January 2015, Juan Carlos Flores Solís was released from the Centre for Social Rehabilitation in San Pedro Cholula. Over the past few years the human rights defender has faced several criminal cases. The accusations have included aggravated theft, obstruction of public works, extortion, rebellion, and illegal seizure of property, among others. Judicial harassment has been used as a tool by companies involved in Proyecto Integral Morelos to hinder the work of human rights defenders in the region. According to the human rights defenders, at least 12 arrest warrants have been issued against environmentalists who oppose the project.

Front Line Defenders condemns the most recent decision from judicial authorities in Mexico to confirm arrest warrants against human rights defenders Juan Carlos Flores Solis, Adela Villalba Ramos, Eusebio Aguilar Torres, and Alejandro Torres Chocolatl, as it believes that this act is directly linked to their legitimate and peaceful activities in the defence of environmental rights.

25 September 2015
Judicial harassment of members of human rights organisation Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y Agua de Morelos, Puebla y Tlaxcala

On 18 September 2015, human rights defenders from the organisation Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra y Agua de Morelos Puebla y Tlaxcala– FPDATMPT (The People's Front in Defence of the Water and Earth of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala) attended an audience at the Fifth Criminal Court of Puebla (Juzgado Quinto de los Penal) regarding the seizure of the premises of community radio station Radio Zacatepec on fabricated drug-related charges. However, the lawyer for Radio Zacatepec was not allowed to attend the proceedings and there has been no progress in the case.

The FPDATMPT works together with Nahua communities in the states of Morelos, Puebla and Tlaxcala to protect the rights of 22 communities likely to be affected by various large-scale developments in the area, including the proposed construction of a gas pipeline through their community (Proyecto Integral Morelos). The developments are supported by the Italian company Bonatti and the Spanish companies Abengoa, Elecnor and Enegas. FPDATMPT opposes the pipeline as it is to be constructed in the vicinity of the volcano Popocatépetl, which could pose a serious risk to the inhabitants of the region.

On 18 September 2015, the lawyer for Radio Zacatepec was not permitted to attend the above-mentioned court proceedings, while the human rights defenders were instructed not to involve lawyers as this would only delay the process. The next hearings in the proceedings are scheduled for 12 and 13 October 2015.

Members of the FPDATMPT, Ms Miryam Vargas and Mr Juan Carlos Flores Solís are co-founders of the community radio stations Axocotzin, Zacatepec and Amiltzinko, founded in 2009, 2013 and 2013, respectively. The stations Axocotzin and Zacatepec were closed by the state and federal governments on 4 August 2014 due to their opposition to the Proyecto Integral Morelos. Some months later Radio Zacatepec resumed transmission and was instrumental in organising a demonstration on 27 May 2015 in which 800 people closed a federal route in protest against alleged corruption by the Mayor of Juan C. Bonilla, Puebla. On 30 May 2015, the offices of Radio Zacatepec were raided by police and later taken over by the public prosecutor. The public prosecutor's office subsequently informed the human rights organisation that there had been an anonymous tip-off regarding the selling of drugs out of the radio station's offices.

Following the raid, police began searching for human rights defenders Messrs Miguel López Vega and Alejandro Torres Chocolatl, also members of the FPDATMPT, who were forced to flee from their communities to avoid detention. The FPDATMPT filed a constitutional petition seeking information on the arrest warrants against the human rights defenders, and discovered that there were none. They filed a further petition regarding the raid, thanks to which they discovered that no evidence was found on the premises to support the public prosecutor's claims. However the premises remains in the hands of the public prosecutor's office and the investigation is still officially open.

Juan Carlos Flores Solís, a nominee for the 2015 Front Line Defenders award, was released from prison on 23 January 2015. Nonetheless, on 16 June 2015 a court in Tlaxcala rescinded the suspended sentences against Juan Carlos Flores Solís and human rights defender Ms Adela Ramos Villalba, as such revalidating the arrest warrants against them. It is of note that on 16 June 2015, Juan Carlos Flores Solís and Adela Ramos Villalba presented a key piece of evidence for their defence which suggested that officials from the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (Federal Commission of Electricity - CFE) had fabricated the charges against the human rights defenders due to their interest in allowing the gas pipeline to go ahead. Human rights defenders and FPDATMPT members Messrs Eusebio Torres Aguilar y Alejandro Torres Chocolatl also had their suspended sentences rescinded on 24 March 2015. The FPDATMPT wrote to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights regarding these matters on 26 June 2015, however to date they have not received a response. All four human rights defenders are now in danger of being arrested at any moment.

Additionally, human rights defenders Ms Teresa Castellanos and Mr Samir Flores Soberanes, both members of the FPDATMPT in its Morelos section, have been subjected to constant intimidation due to their human rights work. Representatives of the CFE have called to Teresa Castellanos' home, taken photographs of it and made enquiries about her, whilst implying that anyone who continues to oppose the thermo-electric plant under construction in the area could be made to disappear. Meanwhile, Samir Flores Soberanes has been the subject of defamatory leaflets, blaming him for the shooting of a young man which took place outside his home on 31 December 2014. The human rights defenders allege that the young man who was shot was in fact shot by a member of a group who are supposedly paid by the government and working to discredit the work of FPDATMPT.

6 February 2015
Release of human rights defender Mr Juan Carlos Flores Solís

Human rights defender Mr Juan Carlos Flores Solís has been released from prison where he had been held since his arrest in Puebla on 7 April 2014. Despite his release, Juan Carlos Flores Solís still faces a number of other charges.

On 23 January 2015, at 20:18, Juan Carlos Flores Solís was released from the Centre for Social Rehabilitation in San Pedro Cholula. The Seventh District judge filed a habeas corpus in September 2014 (707/2014) requiring the Criminal Court of Cholula to review the case by 22 January 2015. As a result, a release order was issued in favour of the human rights defender. Case 121/2014 remains pending against Juan Carlos Flores Solís in the First Instance Court of the District of Atlixco in Puebla state. The human rights defender is charged with 'aggravated theft' against a worker of Italian company Bonatti S.p.A. and 'obstruction of public works'.

Juan Carlos Flores Solís' arrest on 7 April 2014 occurred shortly after he submitted a complaint to the Puebla State Commission on Human Rights regarding the detention of another member of FPDATMPT, Ms Enedina Rosas Veleza, arrested on 6 April 2014. She remains in detention pending a hearing on charges of 'aggravated robbery' and 'obstruction of public works', for which she faces a possible sentence of nine years's imprisonment. According to sources, at least 12 arrest warrants have been issued against environmentalists who oppose the Proyecto Integral Morelos.

15 September 2014
Charges against human rights defender Mr Juan Carlos Flores Solís dropped as he awaits sentence for 'aggravated robbery'

Two of the three criminal proceedings against human rights defender Mr Juan Carlo Flores Solís have been dropped, while one case remains pending. The human rights defender has been held in detention since his arrest in Puebla on 7 April 2014. He now awaits trial on charges of 'aggravated theft'.

Juan Carlos Flores Solís was acquitted of 'crimes against hydraulic infrastructure', 'mutiny', 'looting' and 'extortion' by the Seventh judge of the District of Cholula in Puebla state in case 127/2012, in light of evidence of violations of due process. Moreover, the First judge of Tlaxcala granted the human rights defender a definitive suspension in relation to charges of 'illegal deprivation of liberty' of workers from the Comisión Federal de Electricidad (Federal Commission of Electricity).

One case remains pending against Juan Carlos Flores Solís in the First Instance Court of the District of Atlixco in Puebla state. In case 121/2014, the human rights defender is charged with 'aggravated theft' of a worker from Italian company BONATI SPA.

Juan Carlos Flores Solís' arrest on 7 April 2014 occurred shortly after he submitted a complaint to the Puebla State Commission on Human Rights regarding the detention of another human rights defender, Ms Enedina Rosas Veleza, arrested on 6 April 2014. In her case, witnesses report that the police failed to show an arrest warrant or to identify themselves, and used firearms to threaten those nearby. Enedina Rosas Veleza is in detention pending a hearing on charges of 'aggravated robbery' and 'obstruction of public works'. She faces a possible sentence of nine years.

15 April 2014
Detention of human rights defenders Ms Enedina Rosas Veleza and Mr Juan Carlos Flores Solís

On 14 April 2014, a judge in Cholula confirmed the detention of human rights defender Mr Juan Carlos Flores Solís pending trial.

The human rights defender has been held in detention since his arrest in Puebla, Mexico on 7 April 2014. He faces charges of extortion, rioting, theft and damage to a hydraulic's infrastructure, which could lead to a maximum prison sentence of 32 years and which he strongly denies.

On 14 April 2014, a Court in Cholula ordered that Juan Carlos Flores Solís be detained pending trial for charges of extortion, rioting, theft and damage to a hydraulic's infrastructure. On 7 April 2014, the human rights defender was arrested at approximately 12pm as he left the Puebla State Commission on Human Rights. Twelve men in plain clothing got out of four white, unmarked cars that had intercepted Juan Carlos Flores Solís as he exited. The men subdued the human rights defender and drove him away in one of the cars without providing reasons for the arrest. Fifteen people who were accompanying Juan Carlos Flores Solís witnessed the event. At 6pm that evening, one of the human rights defender's companions received a call informing him that Juan Carlos Flores Solís would be transferred to a Social Rehabilitation Centre.

The arrest and charges followed the submission of a complaint by Juan Carlos Flores Solís to the Puebla State Commission on Human Rights regarding the detention of another human rights defender, Ms Enedina Rosas Veleza, arrested on 6 April 2014. In her case, witnesses report that the police failed to show an arrest warrant or to identify themselves, and used firearms to threaten those nearby. Enedina Rosas Veleza is in detention pending a hearing on charges of aggravated robbery and obstruction of public works. She faces a possible sentence of nine years. There are reportedly at least 12 other arrest warrants out against environmentalists who oppose the Proyecto Gasoducto Morales.