San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Former Guatemalan officials charged with extrajudicial killings


GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan court issued international arrest warrants for three former senior officials in connection with at least 10 extrajudicial executions, the judiciary said Wednesday.

Erstwhile Interior Minister Carlos Vielman, National Police Chief Erwin Sperisen and Deputy Director of Investigations Javier Figueroa all served in the 2004-2008 administration of conservative President Oscar Berger.

All three are believed to be living outside the country.

The U.N.-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known as CICIG, says the three were part of a conspiracy to summarily kill prison inmates.

The case involves the killings of at least 10 inmates in 2005 to 2006.

Figueroa, who left Guatemala in March 2007, is reported by the Guatemalan press to be living in Austria, while Sperisen departed in April 2008 to settle in Sweden.

Vielman resides in Spain.

CICIG said Tuesday that Figueroa, Sperisen, Vielman and former Prison Services Director Alejandro Giammattei were part of a criminal structure created within the Interior Ministry and National Police during the first year of the Berger administration.

“This structure,” according to CICIG, engaged in “offenses of murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, extortion and drug theft, among others.”

Six alleged members of the conspiracy were arrested Monday for the deaths of seven inmates in 2006 at the Pavón prison farm.

The men were executed during a joint military-police operation to wrest control of Pavón from inmate gangs, an operation CICIG said the conspirators used to eliminate criminal rivals being held at the prison farm.

One of the accused in that case, Giammattei, remains holed up at the Honduran Embassy in Guatemala City, where he went Thursday, Aug. 5, to seek asylum in the neighboring Central American country.

The 2007 presidential candidate of the conservative Gran Alianza Nacional sought refuge at the Honduran mission because he feared an attempt on his life, according to Giammattei spokesman Herbert Chávez.

Giammattei can be arrested only if the Honduran government rejects his asylum bid and expels him from the embassy.

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