Over 4.5 million sign petition for leniency after trucker gets 110-year prison sentence. Aid cuts to Yemen despite widespread starvation.
Why this trucker’s 110-year sentence has sparked an outcry
Last week, Rogel Aguilera Mederos received an astonishing 110-year sentence for four counts of vehicular homicide. The case relates to a 2019 crash in Colorado. Mederos was behind the wheel of a semi hauling lumber along Interstate 70. He was going about 84 mph and the brakes on his rig failed. He plowed into traffic that was stopped because another accident further up the road. The crash caused a 26 vehicle pile up and sparked a fire that engulfed several vehicles. Four people died in the incident.
Mederos was 23 at the time of the crash, had no criminal record, and had no alcohol or drugs in his system. The Houston-based hauling company who owned the rig he was driving and was responsible for its maintenance has so far faced no criminal action in connection with the deaths.
Calls for leniency
The lengthy sentence is due to a particularity of Colorado law that requires certain sentences to be served consecutively. The sentencing has provoked an outcry on social media from members of the public, particularly fellow truckers. At the moment, an online petition calling on Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to reduce Mederos’ sentence has garnered over 4.5 million signatures. Polis has said his office is considering the case.
First Judicial District Attorney Alexis King, who did not herself prosecute the case, has moved for a hearing to determine whether the lengthy sentence should stand. Both King and the judge in the case A. Bruce Jones indicated they felt the sentence was excessive. However, they say that Mederos made many mistakes leading up to the crash and deserves to spend some time in prison.
Aid cuts to Yemen despite widespread starvation
For nearly 8 years, Saudi Arabia has been waging war on Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The conflict has brought about widespread devastation and famine in Yemen, already one of the world’s poorest countries. About 16 million Yemenis don’t have enough to eat and are dependent on international aid to survive.
But funding cuts to the UN’s World Food Program from major donor countries such as the UK are forcing major cutbacks. The agency says that, “From January, eight million will receive a reduced food ration, while five million at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions will remain on a full ration”. According to UNICEF, about 2.3 million Yemeni children under five are suffering from acute malnutrition. About 400,000 children will soon face life-threatening starvation.
The WFP says it will need $1.97 billion to continue delivering food assistance to the Yemen’s most vulnerable families throughout 2022.
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