Report by the FZLN on the Assassination of our companero, Cosme Damian Sastre Sanchez

On October 2, our companero, Cosme Damian Sastre Sanchez, 25 years old, was arbitrarily detained. He was known for his political and social activism, always within peaceful and democratic channels. He was also noted as an honorable man, a worker and an exemplary father who has now left two orphaned children, one and three years of age.

The companero was detained with abuse of authority on the night of Saturday, October 2, in the parking lot (on private property) of the building where he lived. He was held for several hours prior to being taken before a judge. At dawn he was taken to the Municipal Station for Offenders (EMI). The other young persons who were detained along with Cosme, testify that Cosme never went into the cells, let alone to Cell A-5, where the police say he committed suicide. The witnesses state that he was taken to another part of the building, and they never saw him again. Close to daybreak, he was reported dead. Prison officials are arguing, in the midst of contradictions and improbable statements, that Cosme Demian had committed suicide, by strangling himself with his tee-shirt. This story has been refuted by the autopsy results, which confirm that he was killed. These results have only been released verbally, since the police have, up to this point, refused to give us the autopsy report.

The detained, three minors and four adults, were taken to the sub-station of Sanchez Taboada, and later to the Mesa Station, where some of the detained spoke to their families by telephone at about two or three in the morning. Cosme asked about his children, and told them not to be worried, that they would be free in a few hours.

At 2:50 that dawn, they were put in the Municipal Station for Offenders (EMI). The adults and minors were taken to the area for minors. Nothing was known about Cosme at that time, until they reported him as dead, saying that he had committed suicide.

This story is contradictory and improbable. First: His friends and families knew of his emotional state, calm and patient, of his life prospects, of his responsibility towards his family and of his commitment to political and social causes. He was also recently named as the FZLN delegate to represent the organization at the national encuentro to be held shortly in the country's south.

Second: Cosme's companions stated that they never saw him being put into a cell. In addition, witnesses who were in cells adjoining the one mentioned said they did not see him go in, nor his body taken out.

Third: Jail and police officials never notified the relatives of the deceased, even and given that Cosme was carrying personal identification at the time of his detention. Officials relied on all their generals. This was confirmed by the fact that, on Monday, the 4th, a notice appeared in the Frontera newspaper announcing the alleged suicide, noting his name and age. This was exactly how the family became aware of the regrettable event, by reading the news item.

Fourth: According to the above-mentioned newspaper article, the doctor attached to the EMI certified the death, while the Red Cross aid workers indicated that when they took him, he still had a pulse, something that would be impossible if we were to go along with the story that he had hung himself. In addition, if he had already been dead, it would not have been their responsibility to remove him from the jail, but rather that of the Medical Forensic Service.

Fifth: Officials have been continuously hampering the flow of required information on the case, and they have demonstrated their intention of covering up the matter.

Sixth: The autopsy report supports the officials, but it notes the existence of trauma to various parts of the body, inferred from the presence of hematomas in the cranial and thoracic cavities. The pathologist, right after the autopsy was completed, stated verbally that he had not died by hanging, but by strangulation. Meanwhile, State Ministerial police refused to deliver the autopsy report, until they were forced, through pressure from relatives and FZLN companeros, to turn over a copy of the document.

The death of our companero and friend is now added to a series of "suicides" committed inside the EMI under suspicious circumstances. Over the last five months, three similar incidents have taken place. This time the police abuse and brutality - so common in the popular neighborhoods of Tijuana, whose principal victims are young people from the working class - has left two children, 1 and 3 years of age, unprotected, as well as Cosme's parents, to whom he was contributing financially. His father is ill and cannot secure work, and his mother was recently let go because she was pregnant, and the employer did not want to pay benefits or grant the three months disability required by law. As can be seen, the police attacks affect the population that is the most financially needy.

During his life, Cosme was characterized by his activism and his commitment to the best social causes. He was always in the forefront of demonstrations in support of the zapatista communities and for peace in Chiapas. Months back, this earned him harassment by persons he described as looking like "judiciales," which casts an even darker shadow on his death.

In response to the above-mentioned, we are accusing municipal officials, Public Security Management of Tijuana and the directors of the EMI, as being directly responsible for the death of our companero and friend, as well as demanding that the governor of the state, Alejandro Gonzalez Alcocer; the Attorney General of the state, Juan Manuel Salazar Pimentel; the municipal president of Tijuana, Francisco Vega de la Madrid; Alfredo de la Torre, the Director of Municipal Public Security in Tijuana; a thorough investigation, punishment for the killers and indemnification for damages.

The Zapatista Front of National Liberation is making known to society that companero Cosme Damian Sastre Sanchez, 25 years of age, was assassinated in the cells of the Municipal Police station, and now the officials want to present this crime as a suicide.

We are now demanding, as the FZLN, along with Cosme's family and human rights organizations, that an investigation be made of Cosme's assassination, and we are planning mobilizations in order to demonstrate for an end to police brutality, raids and the crimes being committed by PAN officials.


Originally published in Spanish by the FZLN <> ______________________ Translated by irlandesa Date: Thursday, October 14, 1999 16:14:09 -0600 From: fzln <>

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