SANTIAGO – At least 100 people, most of them from the indigenous Mapuche community, marched on Friday on the streets of the Chilean capital to support the shaman Francisca Linconao, who is accused of involvement with the murder of a couple in 2013 in southern Chile.
The protesters first held a meeting in the Central House of the University of Chile and later marched through Ahumada street towards the Plaza de Armas, very close to the La Moneda palace, the seat of the government.
The protest was led by the brother of the accused Mapuche leader, Juan Linconao, who told the press that his sister had been framed.
Holding placards denouncing persecution of the Mapuches, the protesters marched around 10 blocks, watched by special forces of the Carabineros (police), although no incident was reported.
Linconao – who has been acquitted of the crimes twice and now faces a third trial – unsuccessfully tried to hand over a letter about her case to Pope Francis on Jan. 17, during his stay in Temuco, capital of the Araucania province.
She had served a nine-month preventive arrest in prison during which she carried out a hunger strike, and is currently under night house arrest and not allowed to leave the country.
She is among 11 Mapuches accused of killing the Luchsinger-Mackay couple by setting fire to their house, an act carried out by masked assailants on Jan. 4, 2013 in a rural area of Araucania province.
On Oct. 25, a Temuco court had acquitted all the accused, but on Dec. 29, the Appeals Court overturned the decision and ordered a new trial, set to begin on Feb. 26.
The prosecution maintains that a meeting coordinating the attack was held at Linconao’s house, situated in the town of Padre Las Casas.
Southern Chile has witnessed a decade long conflict between the State and some Mapuche communities who claim ownership of ancestral lands, now in the hands of private companies, leading to the deaths of many members of the community, police personnel and farmers.