Saturday, 12 May 2018

MEXICO: German And Polish Tourists Murdered In Chiapas

Polish cyclist Chmielewski
A Chiapas state prosecutor confirmed today that two European cyclists found dead in a ravine had been murdered.

The news first surfaced yesterday when the brother of Holger Hagenbusch claimed that his brother and a fellow bicycle traveler had been assassinated.

Today, prosecutor Luis Alberto Sanchez confirmed that Hagenbusch and Krzysztof Chmielewski had been killed, the former by a gunshot to the head and the latter by a severe blow, also to the head.

He said the motive for the killings appeared to be robbery.

Some belongings including a bicycle and cameras were missing at the scene, the bottom of a 200-meter ravine on the highway between San Cristobal de las Casas and Ocosingo.

A regional prosecutor had earlier reached a different conclusion. Arturo Lievano Flores said that Chmielewski, a Polish citizen whose body was found April 26, had died of head trauma.

The body of Hagenbusch, a German citizen, wasn’t found until May 4. It was located about 200 meters from that of his fellow rider.

On the same day, Lievano said there was no suspicion of foul play and an autopsy had revealed no evidence that the Pole had been murdered.

His hypothesis was that the cyclists had lost control on the narrow and risky highway and plunged to their deaths.

Yesterday, Hagenbusch’s brother, Rainer, posted on his Facebook page that the Chiapas Attorney General’s office had updated him on the status of the investigation.

The truth is that it was an assassination. An assassination that was covered up, he wrote.

He also said that Chmielewski had been decapitated and was missing one foot.

The body of a cyclist from Poland was found in a ravine in Chiapas.

A German cyclist who has been missing for two weeks might have suffered the same the fate as a cyclist from Poland.

The decomposed body of Polish traveler Krzysztof Chmielewski was found at the bottom of a 200-meter ravine next to a rural Chiapas highway between San Cristóbal de las Casas and Ocosingo.

The discovery was made on April 26 when it was estimated that the victim had been dead for almost a week.

Investigators decided it was probably the body of Chmielewski, assistant state prosecutor Arturo Lievano Flores said yesterday.

Lievano said there appeared to be no foul play involved and that the cause of death was head trauma.

DNA tests will be conducted to confirm the identification.

Authorities found a bicycle and a shoe at the scene that are believed to belong to Holger Franz Hagenbusch, who was last seen in San Cristobal April 20.

The investigation has concluded that the two men were traveling together from San Cristobal to Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche.
Holger Franz Hagenbusch - Missing German Cyclist
Chmielewski, 37, had arrived in Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital of Chiapas, on April 16.

The following day he spoke to local news outlets before getting on his bike to go to San Cristobal, from where he planned to continue to Ocosingo.

The body of German cyclist Holger Franz Hagenbusch was found yesterday in the same Chiapas ravine where the decomposed body of a Polish traveler was found on April 26.

Assistant state prosecutor Arturo Lievano Flores said forensic specialists discovered the 43-year-old man’s remains 200 meters from where Krzysztof Chmielewski-Podroznik was found last week.

The 200-meter-deep ravine is located at the 158-kilometer mark on the highway between Ocosingo and San Cristobal de las Casas, a point known as La Ventana.

Clothes belonging to the cyclist were also found, Lievano said in a video statement.

Both Mexican and German authorities had been searching for Hagenbusch this week after his brother issued a plea for help in a Facebook post Sunday, 11 days after he went missing.

According to family members, the man was traveling to the state of Campeche from Chiapas.

Hagenbusch first entered Mexico from the United States and was planning to travel through Latin America before continuing his journey in Africa.

The last time his family heard from him, Hagenbusch was in San Cristobal de las Casas, where he is believed to have met his Polish traveling companion.

A bus driver who works on the San Cristobal-Ocosingo route said that he saw the two European cyclists riding together on April 20, the same day that forensic specialists determined that Chmielewski had died.

Lievano said Thursday that there appeared to be no foul play involved in the death of the 37-year-old Pole and that its cause was head trauma.

The assistant prosecutor said yesterday that investigations into both men’s deaths are continuing and that their respective embassies are being kept up-to-date with any advances.

The two bodies are currently being held in Ocosingo awaiting collection and repatriation by family members.

Cyclists in Chiapas protested yesterday to demand justice for the deaths of two European cyclists and to call for greater security on the highway that passes the ravine where their bodies were found.

Members of the Murcielagos de Ocosingo cycling club also placed a roadside memorial at the 158-kilometer mark on the Ocosingo-San Cristobal de las Casas highway, where German national Holger Franz Hagenbusch and Polish citizen Krzysztof Chmielewski-Podróznik are believed to have fallen to their deaths last month.
The memorial — a white bicycle adorned with flowers — included a plaque with the names of the two men and their respective years of birth and death. A spokesperson for the group said that international cyclists will continue to be welcome in the region.

The cyclists charged that since a political conflict in the municipality of Oxchuc worsened at the end of 2015 there has been no police presence on federal highway 199, which connects the two cities.

Oxchuc is located between the two.

They also placed signs on trucks traveling on the road, urging motorists to respect cyclists.

Assistant state prosecutor Arturo Lievano Flores said last Thursday that there appeared to be no foul play in the death of Chmielewski-Podroznik.

The cause of death was head trauma and the Pole had a wound on the palm of his hand that suggested he had tried to break his fall, Lievano said.

He added that the German’s bike did not show any signs of a collision with another vehicle.

Following the subsequent discovery of Hagenbusch’s body, Lievano explained that the road next to the ravine where the men’s bodies were found is very narrow and presents a very high risk to cyclists.

The line of investigation is that both cyclists lost control and fell into the ravine, he said.

That version of events has been accepted by some who have suggested that the cyclists were run off the road by a passing car or truck but others have charged that they were in fact victims of foul play.

The cycling advocacy group World Bike Forum issued a statement Saturday saying that there are serious doubts about whether the death of the two cyclists was an accident or an act of violence.

The World Bike Forum demands that the Mexican government make an official pronouncement to address this situation, the statement said.

At yesterday’s protest in the central square of San Cristobal de las Casas, cyclists also called for greater security on the highway and for authorities to clarify the facts in relation to the Europeans’ deaths.

Around 100 protesters also demanded justice for their deaths.

There are many inconsistencies in the prosecutor’s arguments about the case.

We believe that it wasn’t an accident but they were murdered, which is very serious and should be investigated better, one protester said.

The protesters also said that they would establish a Citizens’ Truth Commission for the protection of traveling cyclists in Chiapas.

Tourism Observer
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