Anti-mining politician freed from jail in Peru slams government

miércoles 27 de julio de 2016 17:35 GYT

LIMA, July 27 (Reuters) - A fiery anti-mining activist and former governor of a gold-rich region in Peru who was freed from jail on Wednesday accused the government of locking him up for two years in order to keep him from power.

Gregorio Santos welcomed the Supreme Court's decision to annul an extension of his stay in 'preventive' prison, which prosecutors probing him for corruption said was needed to keep him from fleeing Peru or obstructing their work.

Santos, who has no past convictions, never faced trial nor was found guilty of a crime. The investigation is ongoing.

"I'm only getting back what should never have been taken from me, my right to defend myself in freedom," Santos told reporters in broadcast comments after his release.

Santos, an Andean peasant leader who was elected governor of Cajamarca in 2010 and again in 2014, spearheaded protests that derailed Newmont Mining Corp's plans to expand its operations in the region, one of Peru's poorest and home to the country's biggest gold mine.

"The state has turned into a dictatorship," Santos said. "They have kept me from acting as governor and have kept me from taking part in the political life of the country."

The office of outgoing President Ollanta Humala did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Santos has previously accused the government of Humala, who had supported Newmont's now-suspended $5 billion proposed Conga mine, of pulling strings to imprison him to pave the way for the project.

Humala has repeatedly denied the charges and has not tried to revive Conga since Newmont put it on hold in 2011 following protests that turned deadly. Santos and others oppose Conga because it would destroy Andean lakes in a farming region.   Continuación...