MADRID – A Spanish court on Wednesday acquitted a former Guatemalan minister of governance who had been accused of creating an illegal police cell responsible for eight murders.
Prosecutors in Madrid had requested a 160-year prison sentence for Carlos Roberto Vielmann for his alleged role in the clandestine police network responsible for killing eight prisoners during his time in office under President Oscar Berger.
Judges at Spain’s national court acquitted the former minister and read the following sentence: “There is no proof that the defendant Carlos Roberto Vielmann participated in the execution of prisoners, nor did he order them, authorize them, express his support or acquiescence for them.”
“Neither did he know or have reason to believe they could take place,” the sentence continued, adding that there was no evidence against him and no witnesses could place him at the scenes of the murders.
The Supreme court in Guatemala had already dropped the case against Vielmann, who took Spanish nationality in 2009.
However, the case re-emerged following a report compiled by the United Nations-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG).
The case was related to a string extrajudicial killings carried out against prisoners by a clandestine police corps between 2005 and 2006.
The first alleged case of murder in the 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 was accused of authorizing 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 “The 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 former Guatemalan police chief under Vielmann, Erwin Johann Sperisen Vernon, was already found guilty in a murder trial by a court in Switzerland and was sentenced to life.
In Guatemala, the former chief of that country’s criminal investigative unit, Victor Hugo Soto Dieguez, was sentenced to 33 years for his role in the case.
The chief of the deputy directorate of the national civil police, Javier Estanislao F.D, was acquitted by a court in Austria.