Guatemala tries 11 ex-soldiers over wartime massacres

January 18, 2016

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan judge opened a trial Monday of 11 retired soldiers accused of taking part in massacres of indigenous civilians during the country’s bloody 1960-1996 civil war, justice officials said.

The decision followed days of the judge, Claudette Domínguez, hearing arguments and weighing evidence for a trial. That included DNA evidence from 558 human remains found on the grounds of a former army base in the north.

The indicted were among 18 former Guatemalan soldiers arrested on Jan. 6. The judge exonerated three of the 18 from the trial, saying evidence against them “lacked merit” and ordering them released.

The other four under arrest are suspected of a separate war-era crime: that of the disappearance of a boy in the capital, Guatemala City. The merits of that case are yet to be decided.

Among those going on trial is Benedicto Lucas García, the armed forces chief during the 1978-1982 presidency of his brother Fernando Romeo Lucas García, who ruled over the darkest years of the conflict. Lucas has proclaimed his innocence, and expressed disappointment with the judge’s decision to put him in the dock.

“I was never in the area” where the massacres occurred, he said.

Another of the accused, Raúl Dehesa Oliva, argued that “just because people were commanders or sub-commanders” they should not be put on trial for crimes committed by troops.

“We are here because we defended the Guatemalan people,” he said.

Veterans of the civil war stress they were fighting the spread of communism by battling leftwing guerrillas during the conflict. But many atrocities were committed, the overwhelming majority attributed to the armed forces by the United Nations, which counted 200,000 killed or missing in the 36-year war.

Facebook Comments

You may be interested

Our first successful Kickstarter funds The Tico Times Dispatch
Uncategorized
226 views
Uncategorized
226 views

Our first successful Kickstarter funds The Tico Times Dispatch

The Tico Times - November 13, 2018

Thank you for helping us fund the next episode of The Tico Times Dispatch. Thanks to readers like you, our…

A conversation with Christiana Figueres: ‘Costa Rica punches above its weight’
Changemakers
327 views
Changemakers
327 views

A conversation with Christiana Figueres: ‘Costa Rica punches above its weight’

The Costa Rica USA Foundation (CRUSA) - November 13, 2018

For many in Costa Rica, Christiana Figueres needs no introduction. The daughter of iconic revolutionary and president José “Pepe” Figueres…

PHOTO: Carlos Alvarado and Emmanuel Macron
Costa Rica
821 views
Costa Rica
821 views

PHOTO: Carlos Alvarado and Emmanuel Macron

AFP - November 12, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech ahead of the Paris Peace Forum at the Villette Conference Hall in Paris…