The Committee for Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (Cofadeh) wishes to express its total condemnation and deep concern regarding the police of the State of Honduras and their systematic practice of attacking its citizens.
On 26 December Marco Aurelio Lorenzo, the Catholic parish priest for Macuelizo, Santa Bárbara, was travelling in a car with two of his brothers, at about 8.15 at night along the turn-off leading to El Rosario farm, at kilometre 24 on the road linking San Miguelito with Yamaranguila in the department of Intibucá.
At that point he decided to rest at the side of the road, after having driven several kilometres from the Department of Santa Bárbara into Intibucá. The priest had been conducted a range of religious services (masses, christenings, weddings) non-stop since 19 December, and as a result was exhausted.
As the ground was uneven, one of the passengers got out of the car to put a rock under the wheel to prevent the car from sliding. While he was doing this a police patrol car turned up carrying eight officers, who without a word and without demanding his documents, began hitting him.
Seeing the attack, Father Lorenzo got out of the car to find out what was happening, and suffered the same fate. The priest was handcuffed and he was severely beaten. He was thrown to the ground and one of the policeman stood on his body while the other kicked him with his regulation boots.
They then stripped the priest and his travelling companions of their personal belongings, food which they had taken to share with their family and money, and forced them to get back into the car, removed the rock, and pushed the car down a slope. The car came to rest in a ditch.
The police then removed the car and handcuffed the victims to the bars of the patrol vehicle. They took the injured to hospital in La Esperanza, in Intibucá, and left the car and the documents at the police station. There the priest’s sister was given his wallet with the documents and his mobile phone, with the SIM card and battery missing. As a result of his injuries, the priest lost consciousness and needed 16 stitches in his head.
Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo is a staunch defender of natural resources, as a result of which he has been the victim of attacks and illegal detention.
For example, on 17 July 2007, he was arrested together with Reginaldo García, another priest, on the orders of Silvio Edmundo Inestroza, an officer with the Policía Preventiva (Preventive Police), during a peaceful protest against open-cast mining. While the demonstration was being dispersed, in Seis de Mayo district, the police insulted and hit Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo with their batons and pushed him onto the pavement. The priest was detained for over six hours in a police station in the area.
On the night of 13 August 2004, Father Lorenzo was returning from the community of San Antonio Chiquila when he was intercepted by a Toyota car without number plates. Three armed hooded men made him get out of his car and severely beat him on his back, abdomen, chest, legs and hip, causing internal injuries, as a result of which the priest had to be hospitalised.
COFADEH asks the national and international community to demand that the State of Honduras adopts the necessary measures and effective mechanisms to guarantee the life, physical integrity and access to justice for Father Marco Aurelio Lorenzo and his two brothers, and to suspend any reprisals against them.
Please direct letters, calls and faxes to Honduran justice officials:
Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
President of the Supreme Court
Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069
Luis Alberto Rubí
Director of Public Prosecutions
Fax (504) 221-5667
Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099
With a copy to:
Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Fax:+504 220 5280 (request: “tono de fax”)