San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemala massacre trial begins

GUATEMALA CITY – The Guatemalan trial of four soldiers accused of killing more than 250 people during the country’s brutal civil war began Tuesday with the testimony of two alleged participants in an infamous massacre known as “Dos Erres.”

According to investigators, former lieutenant Carlos Antonio Carias and his former assistants, Manuel Pop, Reyes Collin and Daniel Martínez, were part of the Guatemala Army’s elite Kaibil forces when they carried out a massacre in the northern Guatemalan community of Dos Erres, La Libertad, in December 1982.

Carias and Collin were the first to testify in court, and both of them denied participating in the violence, claiming to be elsewhere during the slaughter.

A lawyer for the Association of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared of Guatemala said that so far, seven of the 18 alleged perpetrators of the massacre have been detained.

One of the accused murderers was extradited from North America earlier this month, while two more are currently being detained in the United States.

The massacre occurred during General Efraín Ríos Montt’s military regime, and Montt is believed by many to have been the author of the attack. The former army chief currently has two open cases in Spain and Guatemala against him for crimes against humanity.

The massacre at Dos Erres is one of 699 cases documented by the Historical Clarification Commission, whose report cites more than 200,000 casualties from Guatemala’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

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