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Puerto Rico

Authorities agree to investigate Mercado’s death as hate crime

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Puerto Rican authorities have agreed to investigate Jorge Steven López Mercado’s murder as a hate crime after they met with local representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union.

Nuevo Dia reported William Ramírez, executive director of the ACLU and of the University of Puerto Rico’s Legal Clinic, pointed out to Puerto Rico Department of Justice Secretary Antonio Sagardía the Commonwealth has a history of “not investigating hate crimes cases” like the one he said to which Juan A. Martínez Matos reportedly has confessed.

Mercado vigil“The ACLU has tried to get the government to accept its responsibility to investigate cases… that are hate crimes, particularly that of young Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado,” said ACLU director William Ramírez.

“We should not be satisfied with the possibility the federal government will do what our government is not interested in doing; which is to protect every citizen,” he said.

Cries are also coming from around the country against investigator Angel Rodriguez Colon, who said Mercado contributed to his own death simply because he was gay.

Mercado was murdered in Puerto Rico on Nov. 13, his body found decapitated, dismembered and partially burned in a wooded area near Cayey. on Friday, Nov. 13.

Juan A. Martinez Matos was arrested a few days later.

Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, which means federal agencies have jurisdiction. Matos could be charged with a hate crime under the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in October.

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