Gunshots were fired last week into the home of Guatemalan human rights leader Angelica Choc, who is a plaintiff in a high-profile wrongful death civil lawsuit filed against Toronto-based Hudbay Minerals Inc. in connection with the 2009 murder of her husband.
Hudbay is seeking state and federal permits to construct the proposed Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forest 35 miles southeast of Tucson.
Rights Action, a Canadian human rights organization, is reporting that the gunfire occurred just after midnight on Friday, Sept. 16 while Ms. Choc was sleeping in her El Estor, Guatemala home with her two children.
Ms. Choc is the widow of Adolfo Ich, a teacher and community leader murdered Sept. 27, 2009. Hudbay Minerals’ then head of security, Mynor Padilla, has been charged with the killing and his criminal trial is ongoing in Guatemala. Padilla is a former colonel in the Guatemalan military.
Ms. Choc has been a lead witness in Padilla’s criminal trial that began in March 2015, and has been repeatedly subjected to intimidation, Rights Action states.
Padilla also is accused of shooting German Chub on the same day that Adolfo Ich was murdered. Mr. Chub was left paralyzed and still has a bullet lodged near his spine. Mr. Chub has also a testified at the criminal trial.
He is also a plaintiff in a separate civil lawsuit filed against Hudbay.
“Rights Action believes this intimidating attack was very likely linked to Angelica’s work and struggle for justice both in Guatemala and Canada…concerning the mining related murder of her husband, Adolfo Ich,” the organization stated in a press release. “Rights Action is extremely concerned for the safety of Angelica Choc and her family and German Chub and his family.”
At least four bullet holes were found on Ms. Choc’s home the day after the shooting and 12-gauge shotgun casings and 22-calibre bullet casings were found nearby, according to a statement released by her Toronto attorneys.
“The fact that Angelica’s house was shot at just before the Guatemalan criminal court is to decide whether the former head of mine security is criminally responsible for the brutal killing of her husband is no coincidence,” said Murray Klippenstein, Angelica Choc’s Canadian lawyer. “It is meant as a signal to all involved, including the judge who must decide whether Mr. Padilla is guilty.”
Klippenstein criticized Hudbay for its “continued irresponsible defense of both the civil lawsuits in Canada and the criminal prosecution in Guatemala.”
“We expect Hudbay…and their lawyers to denounce this attack in the strongest possible terms lest their silence be interpreted by those who did this as tacit approval of their actions,” Klippenstein stated.
Hudbay has not publicly responded to the shooting as of 11:42 a.m., Sept. 21.
Ms. Choc and Mr. Chub are featured in InvestigativeMEDIA’s documentary film “Flin Flon Flim Flam” that reports on Hudbay’s worldwide mining operations.