Farmers sentenced in Paraguay land killings controversy


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Eleven peasant farmers were sentenced to prison in Paraguay on Tuesday, in a controversial trial over clashes between police and farmers that killed 17 people in 2012, a media reports said on Tuesday.

The sentences ranged from four years to 30 for the alleged ringleader of the farmers accused of killing six police officers in clashes over a tract of land they occupied in protest in Paraguay’s north.

However, 11 farmers also died in the so-called Massacre of Curuguaty.

Dozens of supporters shouted down the judge with cries of “injustice’’ as he read the verdict and the proceedings were temporarily suspended while law enforcement restored order.

Paraguay drew international condemnation when charges in the case were filed only against peasants, whom the police accused of opening fire, and not police.

German aid group Misereor criticised the trial, saying it was marked by severe irregularities and partisanship.

However, the killings caused a political crisis in Paraguay in 2012.

The country’s parliament took the massacre as an opportunity to unseat the leftist former Paraguayan president, Fernando Lugo.

Meanwhile, Lugo had in 2008 took the presidency from the right-wing Colorado Party for the first time in 60 years.

Barely a year after, Lugo was ousted, the Colorado Party took power again.

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