The Civil Rights Commission (CDC by its Spanish initials) revealed today its report which concludes that the death of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos was “illegal” and that the investigations of his death conducted by the U.S. Office of Inspector General and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice omitted important information and testimony.
On Thursday, members of the Caribbean and Latin American Coordinating Committee of Puerto Rico made public the CDC’s report about the death of Ojeda Ríos at the hands of FBI agents at his home in Hormigueros on September 23, 2005.
Liliana Laboy, one of the organization’s spokespeople, indicated that the report contains information that wasn’t included in the OIG or Justice Department reports and also emphasized the federal authorities’ refusal to collaborate with the investigations.
“This report (CDC) contains worthwhile information and testimony that hadn’t come to light previously. It’s notable, in this investigation as well as in the Puerto Rico Department of Justice’s investigation, that federal authorities refused to cooperate and allow the examination of several employees and former employees who participated, and thus had responsibility for the murder,” said Laboy.
The spokesperson also stated that the report points out facts that prove that the intention of the federal agents was not to arrest Ojeda Ríos and that thus what happened was “an illegal death.”
“The report points out facts that prove the lack of intention to arrest Ojeda and concludes that an illegal death was committed — in other words, a murder,” stated Laboy.
For his part, Luis F. Abreu, the Machetero leader’s attorney, stated that the CDC report details four particular aspects about the events that took place at Ojeda Ríos’ home in Hormigueros, including: the nature and amount of the force used by the federal agents against Ojeda Ríos, the availability of adequate medical attention, media access, and the role of the government of the Free Associated State.
As for the involvement of the Puerto Rican government in the case, Abreu condemned the fact that it was the administration of then Governor Aníbal Acevedo Vilá that notified federal authorities of Filiberto Ojeda Ríos’ whereabouts, in exchange for a designation of funds to combat terrorism.
Although Abreu recognized the importance of the CDC report in terms of its content, he said he was not satisfied because the report doesn’t clearly establish the crass violation of rights implicated by the murder.
Laboy stressed that in light of this new report, the United States and Puerto Rican governments should reopen the case to make criminally responsible the agent who shot Ojeda Ríos, as well as Luis Fraticelli and José Figueroa Sancha, who directed the federal operation.
Laboy stated that the Civil Rights Commission sent them a simple communication on Wednesday indicating that the report on the death of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Ríos had been sent to the Governor and the Legislature, and that it was under the consideration of the State Electoral Commission’s Board of Advertising Examiners pending authorization for its publication, according to Electoral Law requirements during the electoral season.
The report was ready in March of 2011.