Amnesty International probes strange disappearance in Dominican Republic

SEQUEL OF THE BALDERA GOMEZ KIDNAPPING - One year on, Juan Almonte Herrera's fate continues to be unknown, for which Amnesty International (AI) has been in contact with local authorities urging a probe into what it calls a “possible enforced disappearance in the Dominican Republic.”

Almonte has not been seen since 28 September 2009, when he was reportedly abducted by four men identified by eyewitness as police officers. Since he went missing his family and lawyers have reported being followed and watched by Police officers. He may have been subjected to enforced disappearance.

Karl Heinz Lindemann, of Amnesty International in Germany, sent a letter –with a copy to DT- to then Chamber of Deputies president Julio Cesar Valentin advising him that Almonte is believed to have been kidnapped by the National Police’s Anti-kidnapping agents. “On 29 September 2009, the member of the Dominican Committee of Human Rights was on his way to the Santo Domingo office where he worked as an accountant, when a group of armed men forced him into a car and drove away. He has not been seen since.”

“The Dominican authorities should investigate this disappearance or reveal Juan’s whereabouts if he is being held by the security forces. It is very worrying that one year on after his disappearance they appear to have done very little to discover his fate,” said Chiara Ligouri, Caribbean researcher at Amnesty International, quoted by the source,

Although the case hasn’t made headlines during the last few weeks, earlier this month the Dominican United Movement (MUNDO) announced they will file charges in the International Penal Court against Interior and Police minister Franklin Almeyda; former Chief of Police Rafael Guzmán, and former National Investigations Department (DNI) director Fructuoso Heredea,

Quoted by news source 7, MUNDO said they’ll accuse the officials of conspiracy in the Almonte’s disappearance, of torturing Virgilio Antonio Burgos Prado to death, and for the extrajudicial execution of Cecilio Batista and Willam Diaz, in the northwestern town Villa Vásquez.

The victims, all members of MUNDO, were accused by the police of the September 18, 2009, kidnapping Eduardo Baldera Gomez, who escaped from his captors by allegedly prying open the handcuffs “with a stick.”

Almonte’s wife Ana Montilla said it’s been a difficult year for not knowing his whereabouts and for not having his body in a place where she can go to cry and remember.

She added that their children have nightmares and Almonte’s mother has become ill from anguish as the result of Guzmán and Heredia’s actions. “When someone dies their relatives have a body, we don’t have anything of Juan’s. The pain is double.”

Read also: Problems in every corner of the Domincian Republic according to UNDP, UNHRC, Amnesty International and The World Bank

Go back | Date: 28 Oct 2010
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