The explosive new documentary ‘Presumed Guilty’
It’s no wonder the Mexican police detectives in the explosive new documentary Presumed Guilty stare at the camera during the dramatic retrial for murder of Antonio Zúñiga and accuse the filmmakers of threatening them by the mere act of filming. The cameras are there as part of an unprecedented effort by two young married lawyers, Layda Negrete and Roberto Hernández, to bring cameras into Mexican courtrooms to expose a justice system they see as corrupt and fatally compromised by a medieval concept of guilt and innocence.
Presumed Guilty is a seat-of-your-pants telling of one miscarriage of justice and what it took to fix it, and a startling challenge to the system that produced it. It is also a cautionary tale about what can happen when police cross the line in the name of fighting crime, when power is exercised in the shadows and when the presumption of guilt is placed on the accused rather than the accuser.
“This film also demonstrates that people can defeat overwhelming odds when they trust and support each other,” says director Hernández. “Antonio had the courage to trust two young and relatively privileged Mexicans with his fate. And in turn, the filmmaking process brought an unexpected meaning to his ordeal: the promise that everyone could see this farcical legal system for what it is.”
Antonio Zúñiga in Prison. Photo courtesy of Lawyers with Cameras.
Here is where you can watch it. Sorry, available only in the US.
Here is an excerpt from a blog post by an American consultant for security issues in Mexico, who watched the film in Mexico City:
After watching the Mexican blockbuster “Presunto Culpable” (presuntoculpable.org) the other night in Mexico City, it struck me (once again) the mendacious nature of the Calderón administration’s claim that, of the 36,982 people who have been killed since December 2006 (as a result of his war on the narcos), 90% of people the killed are involved in organized crime. The hard-hitting exposure of the corruption, inefficiency, ineptitude and archaic nature of the Mexican justice system revealed by this film is shocking when one considers that the dismal conviction rate of all crimes in Mexico is close to 1.5%. That is, 98.5% of all crimes go unpunished, or, what is more disheartening, is the revelation by this movie that the 1.5% conviction rate clearly includes the innocent.