Published: Saturday 30 September 2000

Two Mexican environmentalist have been put behind bars for 10 years on charges of growing marijuana and possession of arms. The Sierra Club and Amnesty International, two non-governmental organisations, have condemned the conviction of Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera, the two environmentalists. According to them, Montiel and Cabrera were illegally detained, beaten and tortured in May 1999 by Mexican soldiers. They were then forced to confess to charges of possessing illegal weapons and planting marijuana. Sierra Club and Amnesty International believe that the arrest and conviction of the two environmentalists stem from their efforts to stop the rampant logging in the southern state of Guerrero, Mexico.

"This represents a serious blow to Mexico's fragile environment," said Diego Zavala of Amnesty International. "The Mexican authorities have demonstrated complete disregard for the human rights and have sent a chilling message for other environmental activists," Zavala added. Montiel, who formed an organisation to save the environment, was a recipient of the year 2000 Goldman Environmental Prize for his efforts to organise farmers to protest against the rampant illegal logging in the mountains in Guerrero, Mexico.

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