Guatemala: atrocity archive leads to conviction of two officers

A Guatemalan judge sentenced two former national police officers to 40 years in prison Oct. 28 over the February 1984 disappearance of union leader 27-year-old Fernándo GarcĂ­a, the first case to use evidence discovered in abandoned police archives. GarcĂ­a, an organizer at the Cavisa maquiladora, was on his way to work when he was shot, taken to a police hospital and never seen again. Evidence in the archive, found covered in bat droppings in a rat-infested former munitions dump in Guatemala City in 2005, implicated police officers Hector RamĂ­rez and Abraham GĂłmez. “Everything indicates that the accused were definitely in the place where Fernando Garcia was detained,” Judge Odilia González said at the hearing.

“This is an emblematic case,” victims’ rights activist Mario Polanco told Reuters. “It can open up the opportunity for more cases to be investigated.” The 80 million-page archive unearthed by human rights investigators may lead to the conviction of senior officials. (Reuters, Prensa Libre, Guatemala, Oct. 29)

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  1. New convictions in Guatemala disappearance
    On Sept. 20, a Guatemalan tribunal convicted the former director of the National Police of Guatemala, retired Col. HĂ©ctor Bol de la Cruz, and his subordinate Jorge Alberto GĂłmez LĂłpez as “intellectual authors” of the 1984 disappearance of student and labor leader Edgar Fernando GarcĂ­a. The case was presided over by judges YassmĂ­n Barrios, Pablo Xitumul, and Patricia Bustamante—the same panel of jurists who heard the landmark genocide case against former dictator EfraĂ­n RĂ­os Montt. (Unredacted, Sept. 23)