San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemalan Judge Approves Ex-Minister’s Extradition

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan judge approved a request for the extradition from Spain of former Government Minister Carlos Vielman, who is accused of being a member of a criminal organization, judicial officials said.

Judge Patricia Flores “gave the green light” to the petition by the Attorney General’s Office that Vielman be extradited from Spain to be put on trial in Guatemala, a court spokesman told reporters.
Vielman was arrested Oct. 13 in Madrid and jailed by order of Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz to await a decision on whether or not he would be extradited to Guatemala.

The U.N.-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or Cicig, accuses Vielman of belonging to a criminal organization that operated out of his ministry between 2004 and 2007 during the administration of President Oscar Berger.
Vielman, who is a stepbrother of the current vice president of Guatemala, Rafael Espada, and who has Spanish nationality, as well as other senior officials, are accused of the extralegal execution of seven inmates on Sept. 25, 2006 at the Pavon prison farm.

The men were executed in an operation dubbed “Pavo Real,” a joint military-police operation to wrest control of Pavon away from inmate gangs, an occasion investigators say the conspirators used to eliminate criminal rivals being held at the prison farm.
Accused along with Vielman are former national police chief Erwin Sperisen and erstwhile deputy director of investigations Javier Figueroa.

Figueroa, who left Guatemala in March 2007, is reportedly living in Austria, while Sperisen departed in April 2008 to settle in Sweden.

Guatemalan authorities have asked Interpol to aid in apprehending the fugitive former officials.

Seven other defendants are already in custody in the Central American country, including Alejandro Giammattei, who ran for president in the 2007 elections.

Because the extradition treaty between the two countries does not cover the crimes attributed to Vielman, Judge Flores “recognized” them as equivalent to “intentional homicide” which is part of the international pact.

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