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Chiapas Court Frees Rebel Backers

November 19, 1999

MEXICO CITY (AP) _ A Chiapas state court has freed six Zapatista rebel sympathizers jailed after helping establish parallel governments independent of local authorities.

The president of Chiapas’ state supreme court announced the releases late Thursday, the government news agency Notimex reported.

The men, who faced charges of damaging property, robbery and kidnapping, were freed under a government program to help find a solution to the 5 1/2-year-old rebel uprising.

Under the program, jailed Zapatista sympathizers who are not charged with violent crimes are eligible for release. So far, 51 prisoners have been freed and 103 await consideration of their cases, Notimex said.

The six men had been jailed after helping create autonomous governments in Taniperlas and Amparo Agua Tinta, in the county of Ocosingo.

The region is home to many supporters of the Zapatista National Liberation Army, which took up arms briefly in January 1994 in the name of greater rights for Chiapas’ impoverished Indians. Peace talks with the government have been stalled since mid-1996.

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