Judges reject call for federal watchdog to probe case of slain Mexican activist

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Published February 10, 2022 at 2:22 pm

OTTAWA — The Federal Court of Appeal has rejected a plea from family and supporters of a slain Mexican activist — killed after opposing a Canadian company’s mining project — to have a federal ombudsman investigate the matter.

In a ruling made public today, a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal upheld the public sector integrity commissioner’s decision not to begin a probe.

In 2007, Calgary-based Blackfire Exploration Ltd. opened a barite mine in Chiapas, Mexico, prompting local opposition, demonstrations and a blockade of a route to the project.

After being beaten and threatened with death for leading protests over the mine’s environmental and social effects, activist Mariano Abarca was fatally shot outside his home in November 2009.

Members of Abarca’s family and organizations concerned with mining abuses presented information to the integrity commissioner in 2018, asking him to probe whether there was wrongdoing by members of the Canadian Embassy in Mexico.

Federal Court Justice Keith Boswell ruled three years ago that it was reasonable for the commissioner to decide not to investigate on the basis the embassy had broken no code of conduct.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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