Court reverses order to halt Mexican documentary

AP News
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Posted: Mar 08, 2011 8:01 PM
Court reverses order to halt Mexican documentary

An appeals court Tuesday overturned a judge's order to halt screenings of an acclaimed documentary that offers an inside look into the flaws of Mexico's secretive justice system.

A Mexico City appeals court ruled that suspending the film violated freedom of information.

The decision came a day after the Cinepolis theater chain pulled "Presunto Culpable," or "Presumed Guilty," to comply with a judge's earlier order to suspend screenings.

Cinepolis, which had filed the appeal against the order to stop showing the documentary, said in a statement that it would resume screenings as soon as it is officially notified of the latest ruling.

The film centers on 26-year-old Antonio Zuniga, who was convicted of a 2005 murder on scant evidence, a process documented by his lawyers, who filmed the hearings with the permission of the trail judge.

Last week, a judge in Mexico City ordered authorities to halt showings pending hearings on a complaint filed by chief prosecution witness Victor Manuel Reyes Bravo, a relative of the victim. Reyes Bravo alleges his right to privacy was violated.

The documentary, which received the audience award for best international feature at the 2010 Los Angeles Film Festival, opened across Mexico on Feb. 18. It was the second-most viewed film in the country over the weekend, behind the animated movie "Rango," according to the National Chamber of Cinematography.

Critics say Zuniga's case is typical in a justice system that routinely violates the rights of defendants or fails to convict those who are guilty.

Mexico's is currently reforming its system, in which trials are held mostly in writing. By 2016, all of Mexico's 32 states must adopt a system of oral trials in which the defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty.