Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj said yesterday that “there are no indications” of Santiago Maldonado having been forcefully disappeared by Border Patrol forces (gendarmería) on August 1 when they — also forcefully — cleared a roadblock staged by members of the Mapuche indigenous community. The Federal Prosecutor’s office of the Esquel district, in the Southern Province of Chubut, disagrees.
It believes that this is a theory worth considering: Yesterday it requested Judge Guido Otranto for the case to be officially investigated as a forceful disappearance.
Until now, the investigation has been classified a missing person case or a “search for his whereabouts.”
The prosecutor’s request sent to the judge reads that, “We continue to investigate the forceful disappearance of Santiago Maldonado, an event that took place on August 1 in the context of an operation carried by the Border Patrol.
“Other harmful conducts are also being investigated, this one against the members of the Mapuche Lof in the district of Cushamen, who are occupying a plot of land due to a territorial conflict — with a company owned by Benetton holding group — since March 15, 2015,” reads the request.
The Prosecutor’s Office made this decision at the request of Maldonado’s family which, backed up by witnesses at the scene and human rights organizations, has accused Border Patrol officers of being behind his disappearance since day one.
However, according to Clarín, sources with access to the investigation assured that there’s still not enough evidence to prove this.
The Prosecutor’s Office concludes by saying that “given the seriousness of the case, which concerns the disappearance of a young man in the context of an operation conducted by a federal force, we spearhead measures tending to determine not only the circumstances that led to his disappearance but also the responsibility of the people who might be responsible for his disappearance.”