Sacerdote católico español Antonio Rodríguez Tercero/ Archivo/ AP

From El Salvador, 13 August 2014

Information for the Passionist Family

THE HEALTH STATUS OF Fr. Antonio Rodríguez Lopez-Tercero and the Legal Process underway

Greetings to all:

      As you know, Antonio has been hospitalized since last Friday, August 8. That day about 8 AM., there were signs that he was hypertensive and that his blood sugar levels were high. It was necessary to act quickly because the symptoms were evident and it was verified that his blood pressure was very high. Due to his prior medical history we requested that he be moved as a medical emergency to a hospital so that he could be treated and stabilized. Due to his status of incarceration and the different obstacles that arose for obtaining the authorization, a significant amount of time passed before he could be moved.

      When he arrived at the Medical Center he was stabilized properly and several tests were done. The doctor who attended him considered it necessary to keep him hospitalized to ensure that he had adequate care to prevent medical episodes similar to last Friday. The stress to which he was subjected in the first days of detention clearly affected his physical health. We must remember that during those ten days of detention, in addition to what may affect a person deprived of liberty, Antonio suffered a ruthless media trial with apparent impotence and helplessness, and has had to endure over 60 hours two lengthy hearings (32 hours each) and he has been involved in a strategically elaborated attack.

     The doctor realized that it was not just a matter of addressing the symptoms and that this would be sufficient; but it was necessary to tackle the causes of the destabilization: the lack of sleep and rest, emotional stress, inadequate food and at the moment he feels that it is necessary to continue the hospitalization until they are able to guarantee that without strict medical monitoring he will not be able to stabalize the glucose and his blood pressure. Today his medical diagnosis is that they cannot guarantee that this will be possible.

     It should be noted, that Antonio was transferred as a medical emergency with legal procedures that are established, and now those same procedures will determine the need to keep him hospitalized or not. At this time we decided not to move the news of his hospitalization to a public level to avoid precisely what the doctor considered harmful. We were aware that as soon as the media knew about this, it would be pressing for information and creating a climate of stress around the hospital and the medical staff. For two days we managed to keep this from the news media, but by Sunday it was already impossible, and they began to discuss the state of his health: about whether it is privilege or not to be hospitalized, if it is real or not, what really ails him, etc…

     On Monday, legal medicine, the institution that should give the Court a report of the need or not for hospitalization, began a review of the process of Antonio, requesting the necessary medical expertise to do so. Tuesday, according to the press, we have not yet received an legal information, legal medicine informed the Court that there is no need for Antonio to remain hospitalized and that can be assisted on an outpatient basis. Today lawyers will go to court to review the report and assess if there is any information that can help the Court to decide if he needs to be transfered to the detention centre or remain under hospitalization. The doctor of the hospital who gave him a medical follow-up last Friday continues to state that according to his diagnosis, it is appropriate that he continue to be hospitalized, since there is no guarantee that in other conditions of non-hospitalization and rigorous medical care he will not have a new medical crisis. In light of Antonio’s medical history, it would be better not to take the risk.

     It is possible that this afternoon the Court will make a decision and they may cancel the hospitalization and transfer him to the detention center with appropriate medication. These are legal processes established by law and which must be met.

     The important thing is that Antonio is currently stable. During these days of hospitalization he was able to sleep and rest, all visits were restricted, only Fr. Gerardo and I have been able to enter the room. On Monday, and after medical clearance, the Ambassador of Spain also visited him due to his status of hospitalization. This has also helped him to handle the stress and the tension generated by this situation.

Re. the Legal Process of this Case

     A report is being prepared that will be published and will explain this process that has many legal traps, procedural irregularities and is being handled in a way that is media manipulated. Given that there is confusion in the steps to be followed and even information on hearings and non-existent legal actions have been taken, I wish to briefly inform you about what is underway…

     Everyone knows that Antonio is being tried in two different cases for the same crime. At the preliminary hearing of the first case, he was granted freedom with minimum restrictive measures. It must be borne in mind that in these hearings it is not about evaluating the evidence and judging guilt or not, but establishing the measures that will imposed on the person during the investigation of the case until the trial (at least six months).

     The hearing of the second case, which is strategically placed next to the first, with the intention of applying a point of Salvadoran law that says that one cannot recieve conflicting decisions of freedom in two lawsuits. Deprivation of liberty be decreed in the second hearing. Despite the legal arguments indicated by the defense, the judge of the hearing, who was a substitute judge without experience in such cases, made a decison without verbally providing the legal bases and without assessing the arguments that were presented.

     Following this judicial decision, the lawyers studied a strategy to be followed and they proposed the following:

1. Appeal the decision of the second hearing. By law, there is the possibility of appealing the judge’s decision. Such an appeal is submitted to the Chamber of appeals. There are solid legal elements that can be presented to be able to get a favorable resolution. This appeal is to be made as soon as the resolution is issued in writing by the hearing. The hearing was Tuesday, August 5, and even today, Wednesday 13 August at 8:30 in the morning, this has not been issued in writing. We are confident that it can be delivered today, or at least have some communication from the Court. As soon as we have the decision almost immediately an appeal, which already almost entirely prepared, will be preparerd but it must be adapted to address the points in the juridical text of the written decision. Once submitted, by law, to the Chamber of appeals, this type of appeals has 3 days to be resolved, beginning from the day following the filing of the appeal. Many times these deadlines are not met. If the appeal is favourable Antonio would be at liberty until the trial. So far according to what the prosecution has presented there is no support for a conviction of Antonio and the political persecution is obvious. The process of instruction and investigation is still open.

2. In the case of the appeal is not favorable, since the pressure is very strong in this case, a Habeas Corpus will be presented to the Supreme Court of the country, given multiple irregularities of this case both because of the media, as well as procedural.These Habeas would also free Antonio.

3. At the same time, the case will be submitted to the Inter-American Court of human rights, so that they will issue a series of recommendations on manipulation and abuses in the process and about the evidence of political persecution of Antonio as a defender of human rights.

4. We are also gathering information and preparing a report to see that the Court of ethics will make some ruling about the irregularities and the lack of ethics with which the Prosecutor’s office is handling this case.

At the moment, I am offering this information to update you about how the process is developing and especially about Antonio’s condition.

Yours truly,
Carlos San Martín
Provincial Consultor