“Loud pipes save lives” is one of the more contentious philosophies among motorcyclists. Advocates argue louder exhausts make drivers notice motorcyclists better while detractors say the noise pollution leads to stricter anti-motorcycle legislation.
This probably wasn’t what those critics had in mind.
Prosecutors in northern Mexico have charged two motorcyclists with terrorism after their exhaust pipes backfired, causing a crowd of people to panic thinking the sound was gunfire. In a country with serious drug violence issues, this was a valid fear for the crowd.
According to the Associated Press, the state has charged Juan Ramon Munguia and Enrique Trevino Rivera with the rather extreme accusations. The incident occurred April 7 as the two were leaving work in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. When the two started their bikes, their engines backfired, spooking a crowd who were there to celebrate an Easter festival. The noise sent hundreds of people stampeding in panic, with several people getting trampled with vendor stalls clogging up the street.
Accounts differ as to whether the loud engine noise was intentional.
“There are two versions: They (the motorcyclists) say that is just where they usually warm up their engines,” San Luis Potosi state spokesman Juan Antonio Hernandez told the Associated Press. “But there are witnesses who say they purposely continued to rev their engines , even after people had started to panic.”
The terrorism charges may seem extreme. Part of the problem, officials concede, is the state criminal code lacks lesser charges that would be more appropriate for such a situation. As it is, the two riders face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
The Human Rights Commission has stepped up to defend the two motorcyclists.
“There is possible blame that can be attributed to city authorities who allowed vendors to set up stands in the square without the appropriate controls, which prevented a rapid evacuation,” the commission said in a statement.
“The arrests and charges of terrorism lack any legal basis,” continued the statement. “This commission has evidence that the two workers were leaving work and doing what they do every day, starting up a motorcycle they use as transport.”
The Human Rights Commission also claim the two riders were beaten by police after being taken into custody.
[Source: Associated Press]