October: Multiple legal delays & criminalization of survivors of the Hogar Seguro tragedy

By: Stacey Gomez, BTS Maritimes Coordinator

It’s been 2 years and 7 months since the Hogar Seguro fire took place, claiming the lives of 41 girls and leaving 15 others severely injured. This month alone has been marked by several delays in the legal processes against the officials who’ve been charged. We manifest our concern about these delays, as well as the criminalization of survivors of this tragedy. Read on for more info.

Speaking tour event in Sackville with Mayra Jimenez of 8 Tijax, March 2, 2019 (Photo Credit: Juan Carlos Martinez)

On October 10th, the evidentiary hearing of the second group accused in this tragedy was supposed to happen, but was rescheduled til October 28th. This group includes Brenda Chamán, former head of the Department of special protection against mistreatment at the Hogar Seguro; Luis Armando Pérez Borja, sub-commissioner of the National Civil Police (PCN); Lucinda Marroquin, sub-inspector of the PCN; Harold Augusto Flores Valenzuela, head of the Ombudsperson for children and adolescents with the General Ombudsperson of the Nation (PGN); and Gloria Castro, Children’s Advocate with the Human Rights Ombudsperson’s office (PDH).

An October 22nd oral hearing scheduled for the first group of accused was postponed. In its place, at the request of lawyers of the girls’ families, a discussion over preliminary evidence was set to take place.

According to Prensa Comunitaria: “While this would appear to obstruct the process, in reality this is an advance… The request seeks a hearing on preliminary evidence, with declarations by 8 of the survivors who have yet to testify. Presenting the declarations of the survivors as preliminary evidence, serves as an important protection for them, since during the judicial process they could be subject to a process of revictimization.”

However, that hearing was suspended because one of the accused Anahy Keller, subsecretary of the Secretariat of Social Welfare (SBS), presented a recusal motion for judge Mario Solórzano, accusing him of bias. Until this motion is decided by the appeals court, the process cannot continue. Also part of this group are Carlos Rodas, former head of the SBS; and Santos Torres Ramírez, former director of the Hogar Seguro.

That same day, a hearing for the third group of accused was postponed to the next day, because Crucy Lopez was a no show. Lopez is a monitor in the “Gorriones” Preventative Centre who was called to the site of the tragedy on March 7th along with other monitors. She is accused of abuse of power by pepper spraying the girls in the face.

After 3 hours, this hearing was put on pause and set to continue on December 4th. Those accused in this group include justice of the peace for Santa Catarina Pínula, Rocío Murillo, and her secretary Romeo Miranda, as well as Ofelia María Pérez Campos, coordinator of the “Mi Hogar” area of the Hogar Seguro, which housed girls aged 13-17 years old.

Recently, we learned that an individual named Ludwin Jacob Sandoval Jerez is seeking to bring charges against the 15 survivors of the Hogar Seguro tragedy, claiming that they are the ones responsible for what happened. Paula Barrios of Mujeres Transformando Mundo (MTM) has raised concern that this could be a tactic aimed at silencing these girls and preventing them from testifying in the legal cases that are currently underway.

We will continue to provide updates on the struggle for justice for the 56 girls.

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