MADRID – The ex-Guatemalan minister of governance accused of creating an illegal police cell responsible for eight murders on Monday prepared to face a legal judgment in Spain for a case that could carry a 160-year prison sentence.
Carlos Roberto Vielmann, who took Spanish nationality in 2009 after serving as a government minister in Guatemala from 2004-07 under the presidency of Oscar Berger, is to face the Spanish justice system on Tuesday.
Spanish prosecutors said that, in collaboration with commanders from the police national prison service, Vielmann “authorized and oversaw the creation of a clandestine criminal network composed of members of the security forces.”
The prosecutors said the organization conducted a variety of illegal activities including the assassination of eight prisoners between 2005-2006.
One of the victims was allegedly murdered after escaping from prison, while seven other inmates were killed a year later during a security operation in a separate prison complex.
The accusations lodged against Vielmann stem from a report compiled by the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
The report said the accused agreed to the creation of the clandestine group with high-ranking members of his Ministry, including former Guatemalan police chief Erwin Sperisen, who in 2015 was sentence to life in prison by a Swiss court for the extrajudicial execution of 10 prisoners.
The first alleged case of murder in the Vielmann report case dates to Nov. 3, 2005 when special police search squads were sent out to capture 19 prison escapees on the run from the “Infiernito” (“little hell”) maximum security prison.
One of the prisoners, Edwin Santacruz Rodriguez, was arrested and taken to area of a highway outside Guatemala City.
The prisoner’s bullet-ridden body was later discovered in the passenger seat of a car – the result, according to Vielmann’s official version, of an armed confrontation after the police tried to identify the fugitive.
Then, in September 2006, he allegedly authorized a police operation to retake control of the Granja Penal de Pavon prison which had fallen into the hands of a group of inmates self-titled “Committee of Order and Discipline.”
According to the prosecution, the illegal police forces entering the prison had orders to kill the ring-leader inmates.
The crime scenes where the killings had occurred were later altered by the security officials and Vielmann released a video that reconstructed the reality of the events that took place in the facility, the prosecution said.
If found guilty, Vielmann could face up to 160 years in prison (20 years per murder) and could be forced to pay out a total of 300,000 euros ($315,700) to his alleged victims’ next of kin.