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Friday 28 October 2011

Patricia Covarrubia

Get me some popcorns please!

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Who doesn’t like a good film? Moreover, who doesn’t like a happy ending especially if it is real life? I am afraid I was stuffing myself with popcorn when this news came because I did miss it!!

I guess you are familiar with the expression ‘innocent until presume guilty’. However, this common phrase appears not to exist in Mexico judiciary practice. Today’s topic is the Mexican film named ‘Presumed Guilty’ which recently won an Emmy in Los Angeles. This documentary is an independent film about a man wrongly convicted of murder. While this blog does not cover this area of law here you can check more about the criminal process run by the Mexican judiciary.

Two lawyers, Roberto Hernandez and Layda Negrete, became involved in Mr Zuniga's case and filmed their attempts to win his freedom. To make the story short, there was eventually a retrial, during which a prosecution witnesses admitted he did not see Mr Zuniga fire a gun. The judge nevertheless upheld the sentence, which was only finally overturned when Mr Zuniga's legal team appealed to higher judicial authorities.

Going back to the topic on this blog – the film

The documentary received a step back went on March 2nd a a Mexico City Judge banned the film after the directors were sued for filming one person without permission - privacy grounds. The person that brought the case was the prosecution witness in the documentary who argued that he had been filmed without permission and alleged his right to privacy had been violated. Yet, cinemas kept showing the film until being served with a formal demand.

Outcry: the judge's ruling provoked a storm of protest and complaints about censorship.

Happy ending: not only Mr Zuniga is free but on March 8th a different court ordered the ban lifted on public-interest grounds.

The Right to broadcast and inform
– any author’ right: the difficulty in this case was the questioning of how far confidential information can be kept or how far I can claim that my privacy is worth of protection. Indeed, I believe that the case managed to weight the situations and finally agreeing that the right to show the truth was worthy of protection.

The documentary has won a string of awards and I invite you to sit comfy in your coach this weekend and watch a true and sad (with happy ending) story bearing in mind that this is still the reality of the Mexican people – Presumed Guilty!

More info here and here.

Patricia Covarrubia

Patricia Covarrubia