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 García, the first case to use evidence discovered in abandoned police archives. García, 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 Ramírez and Abraham Gómez. “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)