In a decision that could have far-reaching implications in Canadian courts, a Guatemalan judge acquitted a former security guard employed by a subsidiary of a Canadian mining company of murder on Thursday.
Mynor Padilla, 53, had been charged in the shooting death of Adolfo Ich, a Mayan Q’eqchi’, at a Sept. 27, 2009 protest on contested land at Fenix nickel mine in El Estor, eastern Guatemala. At the time, Padilla was employed by Compania Guatemalteca de Niquel (CGN), then a subsidiary of HudBay Minerals Inc., based in Toronto.
Padilla, a former high-ranking member of the military, was also acquitted in the shooting of another man, German Chub, who was left a paraplegic with one functioning lung.
The case is being watched closely in Canada, as the events that led to Ich’s death are being contested in three landmark negligence lawsuits launched in Ontario Superior Court. The suits were filed by Ich’s family, Chub and 11 other Q’eqchi’.
If HudBay is found liable in Canada, the case could establish corporate behaviour guidelines for Canadian mining subsidiaries overseas, which have a long history of human rights and environmental complaints. Scott Brubacher, HudBay’s director of corporate communications, said the company is pleased with Padilla’s acquittal. “We always believed in his innocence,” he said.
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