By Ariana Pekary
It’s one of the basic fundamentals of modern day justice: you’re innocent until proven guilty. It might not be a failsafe system – innocent may be found guilty and sometimes guilty may be found innocent – but at least the standard is recognized. The theory originates from Latin law which stated “ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat” (“the burden of proof rests on who asserts, not on who denies”), which is based on the principals of logic, that one who denies a fact cannot produce any proof.
So it’s shocking that in Mexico, the burden of proof is in fact on the accused. In the case of 26-year-old Antonio Zuniga, that meant proving that he didn’t kill the victim in broad daylight who was a good twenty minutes away. He tested negative for gun powder. He even had multiple witnesses to attest that he was at work, tending to his street vending stand that day. It didn’t matter: he was found guilty in his original trial and his retrial. The “court” scenes in the documentary, Presumed Guilty, are even more surreal. The judge, attorneys, and witnesses are crammed into what looks like a cubicle in the middle of a busy office with dot matrix printers screaming in the background. All the while, “Tono,” the defendant, watches from behind a barred window.
Reform of the justice system is just one of the many improvements our neighbor to the south seems to need.
Watch the trailer here. And feel fortunate that you are not in the same legal situation with laws, judges, police and prosecutors stacked against you.