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  HOME | Central America

Ex-Guatemalan Minister Denies Ordering the Killing of 8 Prisoners

MADRID – The former Guatemalan minister of governance accused of creating an illegal police cell responsible for eight murders denied all charges in a Spanish court on Tuesday.

Carlos Roberto Vielmann could face a 160-year prison sentence if found guilty of ordering the murders during his time as a government minister under President Oscar Berger.

Spanish prosecutors alleged 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.”

Facing Spain’s National Court on Tuesday, Vielmann argued that the Supreme Court of Guatemala had already dropped the same case against him, adding that his name would not be stained by a case of 8 dead prisoners.

Vielmann, who took Spanish nationality in 2009, said he would have been willing to return to Guatemala if that country’s courts had not made the allegations public.

Guatemala did not have the correct security conditions on offer to safeguard him from political persecution, he said.

The accusations lodged against Vielmann stem from a report compiled by the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).

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 a maximum security prison.

One of the prisoners, Edwin Santacruz Rodriguez, was arrested and taken to an 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.

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.

 

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