Maldonado. Photo via Clarin

A white pick-up truck that Border Patrol used in the operation in which Santiago Maldonado was last allegedly seen has a superior mileage to the other vehicles. The case investigators, now lead by Federal Judge Gustavo Lleral, are trying to determine the reason for this.

The pick-up truck traveled 681 kilometers during the two days the operation lasted. About 500 more than, fore example, the Unimog truck that was parked outside the Mapuche indigenous community the force’s officials entered to after clearing a roadblock staged by its members, which was used as a kitchen and resting area.

Matías Santana, the Mapuche witness who on September six officially testified before the court, assured that Maldonado had been beaten and apprehended by three Border Patrol officials next to the Chubut riverbank, then taken out of the community in a Eurocargo truck and finally put in a white pick-up truck.

Even though Santana’s recollection of the events was questioned – for example, he said he had seen how Maldonado was taken from the other side of the Chubut river, on top of his horse and through binoculars, but then said he had lost the binoculars – it plays a key role to determine what the truck was used for in the hours that followed Maldonado’s disappearance. “There are at least 481 kilometers traveled that Border Patrol will have to explain,” case sources told La Nación.

“This is a More Human Judge, He Wants to find Santiago”

Sergio Maldonado, Santiago’s brother, seems to be much more satisfied with the way in which the new Federal Judge in charge of the investigation, Gustavo Lleral, is leading the conducting it. After meeting him to testify in the case for the first time, Maldonado talked to press and gave his perspective: “It’s another judge. Nothing to do with the way things were before. He’s more committed, much more human and I hope that will help to find Santiago. He actually wants to find Santiago, we have to support him. He won’t start from scratch because there is evidence,” he assured.

Sergio Maldonado. Photo via Infonews
Sergio Maldonado. Photo via Infonews

In fact, it was Maldonado’s brother who requested the previous judge, Guido Otranto, be removed fro the case, as he considered him inefficient. Otranto refused to leave the investigation, but an appeals court decided he had to. Lleral will exclusively work on the case for two months.

The South American Office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights compels the Government to put more Effort in the Investigation

The South American Office of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights formally compelled the government to “double down on its efforts in the investigation” to clarify the forced disappearance of Santiago Maldonado and deemed it a priority to determine whether Border Patrol was responsible for it. 

In a press release, the office also reiterated its willingness to provide technical assistance in the investigation. The government rejected this proposal in mid-August even though Maldonado’s family requested it accept it.

“it’s urgent to clarify the participation of Border Patrol in the events and, should it be proved, determine its responsibilities and duly sanction both the material authors and their superiors,” reads another part of the release.

It’s the second time the entity makes reference to the case. In fact, its head traveled to Buenos Aires twice and had meetings with government officials aimed at sealing a cooperation agreement. However, the government finally decided to reject the offer a few days before it was set to happen.