A recent rule by the Esquel Appeals Court rejected the “probation” and the dismissal that had been ruled by a former Judge.
Esquel, Chubut – August 12th, 2006. Three high level officials of the Canadian mining company Meridian Gold will face oral proceedings in this city for disobeying the environmental appeal that had stopped the mining project in Esquel in 2003. Yesterday, the Appeals Court of Northwestern Chubut rejected the decisions made by the former Judge, Jorge Criado, who had accepted the proposed probation and had ruled their dismissal.

D.Marud, G.Tufino and M.Mariaca Pando The Court Decision rejects the request for dismissing Mónica Mariaca Pando[1], in addition to rejecting the advantages of the so-called «probation” for Darcy Edward Marud[2] and Gonzalo Tufino[3], all of whom were high level officials of the mining company and had been charged for «disobeying», according to Art.239 from Criminal Code and will go to oral proceedings.

Another step forward in the peoples' fight against the mine

The news has been welcome by the citizens of Esquel given the population of all the Coordillera region of Chubut oppose the mining projects.

In one of the latest rallies that the neighbors organise on the 4th day of every month, the people approached the Court buildings to put a banner that said “trial and punishment to all disobeying and malCriados miners» (Note: «Malcriado means spoiled and involves the last name of the judge in the word), clearly refering to this court case and to the Judge Jorge Criado for having ruled the probation and having accepted the money offer done by the defendants Marud and Tufino.

The Judge had considered in his ruling -now rejected by the Court- that «the amount for economic restoration offered by the defendants is reasonable».

According to high judicial sources, following to this resolution from Esquel Appeals Court, the defendants could be called to Court to an interrogatory. In this scenario, they should travel from the US where at least two of them live now. Afterwards, a date for the oral proceedings would be established.

Summary of legal actions

These decisions originated from the environmental appeal submitted by a Esquel citizen after which the Judge Claudio Petris ruled, in February 2003, that the mining project in Esquel should be stopped. This decision had not been observed by Meridian Gold officials.

A series of well documented facts made Public Prosecutor Martin Zacchino request the case to go to court given the decision had been disobeyed.[4].

Marud and Tufino's lawyers requested the probation and offered Argentinean Pesos 13,000 (appr. U$ 4,300) from each defendant to be distributed to the work done by the «Colegio Salesiano». The Judge Jorge Criado, approved the probation for Marud and Tufino and dismissed Mariaca Pando accepting her statement about her «lack of decision making power inside the company».

Following this decision of the Esquel Appeal Court, represented by Jorge Früchtenicht and Gunther Enrique Flas, (for Benjamín Moisá being on leave), the date for the oral proceeding to prove the degree of responsibility of each of the defendants in this case, is yet to be set.


www.noalamina.org sosesquel@yahoo.com.ar

Contacts (prefix +542945 for all numbers): Gustavo Macayo 452350 – Andres Campos 15502363 – Silvia Perez 454811 – Alejandro Corbeletto 450236 – Humberto Kadomoto 450465 – Chuni Botto 452521

[1] Former Environmental Manager of Minera El Desquite S.A. (Esquel), subsidiary of Meridian Gold Inc.

[2] Former Exploration Manager of Minera El Desquite S.A. (Esquel) subsidiary of Meridian Gold Inc and current Vice-President of Explorations for Meridian Gold Inc. (U.S.A.)

[3] former General Manager of Minera El Desquite S.A. (Esquel) subsidiary of Meridian Gold Inc.

[4] In the trial it would be accredited that the company did this work after the ruled prohibition was in place: put in place devices for meteorologic measurements, panels and devices for measuring streams flow; implement hydrogeological studies for which at least 22 drills had to be done and geological mappings had to be made; do drilling to get rock and soil samples and measurements and analysis of the samples; transport and storage of substances to and from «Cordón Esquel» mining project area; keep and operate illegal storage sites in Esquel.