The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has agreed to accept the case of former Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo against the Paraguayan State for his removal of office through impeachment in June 2012.
Lugo was relieved of his duties in a 48-hour impeachment process following an incident in which 11 peasants and six police officers were killed near the city of Curuguaty, northeast of Asunción. Lugo's defense claims it was given merely two hours to present its case.
The Inter-American Commission decided to declare admissible the petition in the case of Fernando Lugo Méndez against the Paraguayan State, Lugo's lawyer Emilio Camacho said Tuesday.
A period of six months is now open for the parties to present new arguments, he added.
”For us, it is an enormous act of justice (...) given the arbitrariness committed in the development of the impeachment, added Camacho, who clarified that the parties can reach an amicable settlement before the case reaches the IACHR.
Lugo, a former Catholic bishop who ended six decades of hegemony of the right-wing Colorado Party when he won the 2008 election, is now a Senator for the left-wing Guasu Front coalition.
The impeachment trial was questioned by governments in the region who considered it the first in a series of soft coups which later affected Dilma Roussef, in Brazil; Evo Morales, in Bolivia; and also led to the jailing of former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, in addition to criminal charges against former Argentine President and current Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
After Lugo's impeachment, Paraguay was suspended as a full member of Mercosur, a regional bloc, which also includes Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay, until 2013.
The Colorado Party returned to power that year under businessman Horacio Cartés and remained there with the incumbent Mario Abdo Benítez.
The IACHR's decision may set a precedent for other cases of impeachment in the region and in itself constitutes an unprecedented fact regarding the so-called “soft coups”.
Camacho explained the action had been filed due to Lugo's defenselessness of Lugo during his impeachment, which he claims was in violation of the so-called San José de Costa Rica Pact.
The IACHR agreed to hear this case on Dec. 10 but it was not made public until Tuesday. Camacho said such a decision means the panel considered there was plausibility, reasonableness and credibility” in the request.
A week after the so-called Curuguaty massacre, Colorado and Liberal lawmakers joined other smaller Parliamentary blocs to seek Lugo's impeachment. The first non-Colorado President since the return to democratic rule was replaced in 48 hours by the liberal Vice President Federico Franco.
On June 22, in seven hours, the Senate heard both parties, weighed the evidence, handed down a sentence, and took the oath of office to Lugo's successor.