Edwin Róbelo Espinal, FNRP member, detained and tortured

Posted on July 3, 2010

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The Committee of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh), expresses its total repudiation and preoccupation by the illegal detention followed by torture that Edwin Spinal Róbelo was subject to at the hands of agents of the Preventive National Police.

The 30th of June at 11:30 p.m. Edwin Róbelo Espinal was in his neighborhood, La Flor del Campo, Tegucigalpa, when five policemen from the police station of Flor del Campo, headed by the agent Vargas arrived asking Edwin for his driving license. Edwin responded by showing his identity card, which was the document he was required to carry because he was not driving and therefore did not need to demonstrate his driving license. Immediately they began to beat him and agent Vargas sprayed him in the eyes with pepper spray and applied an electric baton to different parts of the body, especially the legs and ears.

He was then forced to board a patrol vehicle in which they drove in erratic directions in different streets for 45 minutes, during the journey they threatened him by saying that he was a communist, a Zelayista and “to abandon that shit of the Resistencia”, after threatening him and taking pictures, he was transferred to the Cuarta Police Station; before being lowered from the patrol vehicle he was pushed with the intention of causing him to lose his balance and fall, the police also repeatedly sprayed pepper spray and proceeded to put him in a cell. When they applied the pepper spray, a police officer said that the gas would kill all civilians. Edwin lost his young wife, Wendy Elizabeth Avila of pulmonary congestion after breathing pepper spray on 22 September 2009 during the repression and suspension of constitutional guarantees. At the police station he was informed that he was detained for being for drunk and disorderly. Edwin Róbelo does not drink alcohol. He was released at 10:30 a.m. on July 1, 2010 through the intervention of the Coordinator of Cofadeh.

Background:
Edwin Róbelo Espinal has been the subject of multiple captures since the military coup, all following the same pattern of abuse. On November 14, 2009, was arrested by police during the vehicle convoy of the Resistencia de Colonia San Miguel de Tegucigalpa, on this occasion, the police, without reason began beating and arresting demonstrators that had remained at the end of the convoy; as Edwin asked for what reason they were being abused, eight officers took him by the shirt and handcuffed him putting him in the patrol vehicle. He was driven along with another protester to the Cuarta Police Station where they were accused of spray painting walls with slogans of the Resistencia. The young man who was also arrested could not read or write. He remained detained for six hours, during which time he was threatened with charges of sedition.

Edwin has also received several threatening calls on his cell phone which usually occur at nightime.

On October 7, 2009, he was attacked with rubber bullets while participating in a demonstration outside the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. On February 25, 2010, police took photographs of the license plates of his car while he attended a demonstration of the Resistencia. In the first week of April 2010, the police threatened motorcyclists of the Resistencia, Los Patriotas, of which Edwin forms part of, that if they went out on motorcycles they would be repressed and during the march they took photographs of the motorcycle license plates that were parked in the parking lot of the STIBYS. The marches continued Los Patriotas continued supporting with their motorcycles.

On 10 April, after the march, Edwin gave his motorcycle and helmets Ebenor Gerson Vilchez and his girlfriend. In Comayagüela City, between the Second and Fourth Street, an unknown vehicle struck the motorcycle that Gerson was driving. Due to the severity of the injuries he died 40 minutes later.

Request
COFADEH makes a call to national and international community to:

Demand that the Honduran authorities guarantee the safety of Edwin Róbelo Espinal Young, to carry out a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the acts of intimidation, illegal arrests and torture that violate fundamental human rights of Edwin Róbelo, to make public the results and bring those responsible for these acts to justice.

Ensure the safety of all people exercising their right to association and free expression.