Justino Xollim is a community leader from Finca "La Primavera", municipality of San Cristóbal in the department of Alta Verapaz. He is also a member of the Union of Peasant Organizations Las Verapaces (UVOC). He was arrested on February 15, 2019 in Cobán when he appeared at the Public Prosecutor's Office (MP) to file a complaint for illegal logging against a logging company bordering his community. He was arrested on the basis of an arrest warrant based on an accusation against him (for the same crime he was about to denounce), raised by people linked to the logging company.
The company operating in the vicinity of Finca "La Primavera" is the timber corporation called "Madera Filitz." They handed over land titles for 15 caballerias to 279 families of the community La Primavera in 2015. This was the result of years of negotiation through roundtables for dialogue involving representatives of the community, the now-defunct Secretary of Agrarian Affairs (SAA), the company and the Azurdía family (who had sold land to the company). Justino Xollim was one of the leaders from La Primavera who participated in those negotiations with the aim of securing land rights for his community.
In August 2019, at the first plea hearing, Justino Xollim was indicted for crimes against forestry resources in the Chico and Saq'Ixim hamlets of the La Primavera community. The judge set a bail of 8,000 Quetzales that would allow him to await the debate under house arrest.
During the hearing on February 26, 2020 the MP did not provide any new evidence against Justino, but argued that as the legal representative of the community he was responsible for the crimes against the forestry resources. Judge Ricardo Caal Caal decided to give the MP six more months to investigate the case and withdrew the coercive measures against Justino, who is no longer obliged to sign in regularly at the National Civil Police (PNC) substation in San Cristóbal.
On September 17 and 20, 2020, Justino attended two hearings during which the criminal prosecution of the case against him for the crimes against forest resources in the Chico hamlet was closed. Nevertheless, the same accusation relating to the Saq'ix'im hamlet was maintained. The oral and public hearing is scheduled to begin on September 7, 2021.
As of today, Justino Xollim has lived under the shadow of this accusation for almost two and a half years, resulting in a permanent state of insecurity for him. This situation was aggravated by the impacts of hurricanes Eta and Iota in the territory of La Primavera, which led to multiple landslides, causing damage to his house and agricultural production. The people of the community have highlighted how excessive logging by the logging company is mostly likely to blame for the increased negative impacts of the hurricanes.
In the months of May, June, July and August 2022, the Cobán Court held the debate against Justino Xollim, which culminated on August 11, in a conviction for crimes against forest resources. He was sentenced to 1 year of commutable imprisonment at the rate of 5 quetzales per day and a fine of 60,566.30 quetzales, which if not paid will be converted into simple imprisonment of 1 day for every 100 quetzales not paid. In addition, the defendant was suspended from his passive suffrage rights and ordered to pay costs.