San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Switzerland arrests former Guatemalan National Police director on murder charges

GENEVA – Swiss police on Friday arrested Guatemala’s former top cop, Erwin Sperisen, who is wanted by the Central American country for alleged involvement in extrajudicial killings while serving as the director of the National Police from July 2004 to March 2007, city officials said.

“Erwin Sperisen … was arrested early afternoon by the judiciary police on orders of the public ministry,” a statement from Geneva’s judicial authority said.

The 42-year-old Sperisen, who holds both Swiss and Guatemalan nationalities, is wanted by Guatemala over the 2005 killing of seven detainees and three other prisoners who had fled the prison.

Guatemala has been calling for his arrest since 2010, along with 18 other former members of the police and Interior Ministry, on charges of murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal detention, extortion and drug theft.

Because he holds Swiss nationality, Sperisen cannot be extradited to Guatemala, according to judicial authorities. Swiss prosecutors opened an inquiry into the charges in 2010, and will now move to prosecute him in Switzerland.

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