CICIG - The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala
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PRESS RELEASE 041

COURT SENTENCES PERPETRATORS OF EXTRA-JUDICIAL KILLINGS

Guatemala, August 8, 2013. Today, Court B of the First Criminal Instance for High-Risk Matters handed down prison sentences of between 15 and 33 years in length to four individuals, including Víctor Hugo Soto Diéguez (former Head of Criminal Investigation of the National Civil Police [PNC]). Soto Diéguez was convicted, in the Pavón and El Infiernito (Zacapa and La Cueva) cases, of participating in the extra-judicial killings of ten inmates.

The court handed down the following prison sentences:

  1. Víctor Hugo Soto Diéguez: 33 years in prison for the extra-judicial killings of ten inmates in the Pavón and El Infiernito cases. The court indicated that the length of the sentence was based on the fact the crime was a continuous crime.
  2. Víctor Manuel Ramos Molina: 25 years in prison for the extra-judicial killing of Edwin Estuardo Santacruz (Zacapa Case). He was acquitted of another extra-judicial killing charge (La Cueva Case).
  3. Axel Arnoldo Martínez Arreaza: 25 years in prison for the extra-judicial killing of Edwin Estuardo Santacruz (Zacapa Case).
  4. Aldo Stefano Figueroa Díaz: 15 years in prison for the illegal possession of firearms and ammunition. He was acquitted of the murders of seven inmates in the Pavón Case as well as being acquitted of a criminal association charge.

Acquitted:

  1. Francisco González Ibáñez
  2. Edwin Emmanuel Rivera Gálvez.
  3. Nicolás Camajá Bach.
  4. María del Rosario Melgar Martínez

The court established that 10 inmates were extra-judicially killed and indicated that there was hierarchical responsibility in the case. In the ruling, the judges declared that in the Pavón Case, it had been established that then government officials were present, including:

  • Minister of the Interior (Carlos Vielmann)
  • Director of the National Civil Police (Erwin Sperisen)
  • Deputy Director of Criminal Investigation of the National Civil Police (Javier Figueroa)
  • Director of the Prison System (Alejandro Giammattei)
  • Minister of National Defence

Therefore, the court ordered the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP) to continue investigations to determine the criminal responsibility of high-ranking officials who were present at the scene. In the El Infiernito case, the court indicated that the influence of authorities upon actions related to the extra-judicial killings of fugitives was apparent.

The investigations established that a parallel structure was created within the State and it had the power to extra-judicially kill individuals deemed to be the "dregs" or "enemies of society". The group used State power and State machinery to conduct its criminal activity as well as creating impunity for actions which it knew were illegal.

The parallel structure conducted the extra-judicial killings of the following individuals:

  1. Edwin Estuardo Santacruz Rodríguez, 03/11/2005 (Río Hondo/Zacapa).
  2. Julián Morales Blanco, 01/12/2005 (La Cueva, Los Amates river, Santa Rosa).
  3. José María Maldonado Sosa, 01/12/2005 (La Cueva, Los Amates river, Santa Rosa).
  4. Luis Alfonso Zepeda González, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).
  5. Jorge Eduardo Batres Pinto, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).
  6. Mario Misael Castillo, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).
  7. Carlos René Barrientos Vásquez, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).
  8. Gustavo Adolfo Correa Sánchez, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).
  9. Erick Estuardo Mayorga Guerra, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).
  10. José Abraham Tiniguar Guevara, 25/09/2006 (Pavón prison, Fraijanes, Guatemala).

CICIG acts as a complementary prosecutor in these criminal proceedings.

Background
Following the escape of nineteen inmates from the high-security prison El Infiernito (October 22, 2005), the accused individuals and other former police officials implemented the "Gavilán Plan" and, hence, located three inmates—referred to above in the La Cueva and Zacapa cases—who were absconding. After the inmates were located, the extra-judicial killings were carried out.

Furthermore, under the Pavo Real plan, the extra-judicial killings of seven inmates of the El Pavón prison were committed on September 25, 2006.

In these cases, the former Minister of the Interior Carlos Vielmann is being prosecuted in Spain, Erwin Sperisen faces charges in Switzerland and Javier Figueroa is on trial in Austria.


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  The Republic of Guatemala, a mountainous country that lies in the Central American isthmus, has an estimated population of 13 million people.
  Guatemala won its independence in 1821, following almost three centuries of Spanish colonial rule.
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