Trials and errors

06/18/2016 The Economist
handcuffsIN 2005 José Antonio Zúñiga, a Mexican street vendor of computer services, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murder. His conviction relied on the account of a lone witness, who did not mention Mr Zúñiga until his third statement to police. Other stallholders said he was at work during the murder. The court excluded statements supporting him, and ignored contradictions in the prosecution’s case and a test that showed he had not fired the gun.

Mr Zúñiga had the good fortune to have two campaigning lawyers take on his case, who succeeded in overturning the verdict. In 2011 his story was featured in a documentary, “Presumed Guilty”. But he is a rare exception among the wrongly convicted in Mexico. Overall, says an attorney in the film, “from the moment they accuse someone, the prosecution has won.”

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