Mexican judges lift ban on controversial documentary

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  • March 14, 2011

By Lee Ann McAdoo

A panel of three Mexican judges lifted a ban on the film "Presumed Guilty," a widely popular yet controversial documentary that exposes faults in the country’s justice system, the BBC said last week.

After a federal judge slapped a temporary injunction on the film, a higher court overturned the previous ruling, saying it was in the public interest for it to be shown, Variety reported from Mexico City.

Earlier, a judge in Mexico City ordered the suspension of screenings of "Presumed Guilty," the Associated Press reported, after a prosecution witness featured in the documentary filed a complaint, arguing that he had been filmed without permission. Both the Interior Ministry and the film’s distributors fought the ruling.

The judge's ruling sparked complaints of censorship, but the publicity also raised interest in the film, The Hollywood Reporter noted.

In related news, the Los Angeles Times reported Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard says he will videotape court trials to prevent the kind of lapses revealed in the film.

"Presumed Guilty" focuses on the troubled justice system in Mexico and has become the country’s highest grossing documentary, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film tells the story of Antonio Zuniga, a man sentenced to prison in 2005 for 20 years for a crime he did not commit. The Washington Post recounts how Zuniga was found guilty of murder although witnesses confirmed he was nowhere near the shooting, tests proved he had not used a weapon, and there was no apparent motive.

Two lawyers, Roberto Hernández and Layda Negrate, became involved in Zuniga’s case and the documentary shows their attempts to win his freedom.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.