'Presumed Guilty' Judge to Serve Another Six Years on the Bench
Judge Hector Palomares' ruling in a murder case detailed by the film sent an innocent man to jail on a 20-year sentence.
Mexico City -- A Mexico City judge, who was exposed in the hit documentary Presumed Guilty for wrongly convicting a street vendor to a 20-year murder sentence, has been re-elected to serve another term on the bench.
The Mexican daily Milenio reported on Thursday that a Mexico City Supreme Court Ethics Commission unanimously agreed to allow judge Hector Palomares to reside for six more years, despite his controversial ruling in the highly publicized murder case.
"We almost can't believe it," Presumed Guilty director Roberto Hernandez told Radio Formula. "We think it's a very bad decision."
Presumed Guilty, Mexico's highest grossing documentary ever, follows the Kafkaesque-like trial of street vendor Antonio Zuniga, who was serving a 20-year sentence for a murder he did not commit. Lawyers-turned filmmakers Hernandez and Layda Negrete eventually convinced an appeals court judge to release Zuniga thanks to recordings of the trial that revealed insufficient evidence.
Zuniga's case is not uncommon in Mexico. As the film's title implies, Mexican law presumes suspects are guilty until proven innocent.
Earlier this year, a district court judge ordered officials to pull Presumed Guilty from theaters after one of the film's subjects claimed he did not consent to appear in the movie.
The film returned to theaters one week after the temporary ban, but the damage had been done: many here saw the provisional suspension as an attempt to censor the film.
The filmmakers have numerous proposals on the table to reform Mexico's archaic judicial system, including the installation of cameras to document court proceedings.