PBI-Guatemala attends ceremony outside court proceedings on genocide against Indigenous peoples

Published by Brent Patterson on

On November 19, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Yesterday we attended the invocation held outside the court prior to the start of the first declaration hearing. The judge received the preliminary conclusions of the MP, the adhesive complainants and the defender of Benedict Lucas García.”

The PBI-Guatemala Facebook post adds, “Today from 9 am he will listen to the defenders of the other two defendants. In the next few days, he will decide if there are enough indications to link them to the process for the crimes of genocide, duties against humanity and enforced disappearances.”

Former senior military officers Manuel Benedicto Lucas García (who was the Army Chief of Staff), Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas (who was the Chief of Military Intelligence) and César Octavio Noguera Argueta (who was the Chief of Military Operations) are being tried for the crimes of genocide and forced disappearance.

Plaza Publica has reported, “They are accused of having devised a campaign to exterminate the indigenous population during the presidency of Fernando Romeo Lucas García [from July 1978 to March 1982].”

The International Justice Monitor adds, “The case against Noguera Argueta, Callejas y Callejas, and Lucas García involves minimally: 31 massacres in which 1,128 people were killed; the destruction of 23 villages; 97 selective killings; 117 deaths due to forced displacement; 26 cases of sexual assault; and 53 cases of enforced disappearance.”

Nomada reports, “Justice has determined twice that there was genocide in Guatemala. The first was with the conviction of the dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, in 2013. The second was on September 27, 2018, when the Court of Highest Risk confirmed for the second time that there was genocide in Guatemala…”

That article adds, “This case could set a precedent in Guatemalan justice if three of the five senior officers involved have a conviction.”

The 36-year-long war (internal armed conflict) in Guatemala began in November 1960 (after a US-backed coup in June 1954) and ended in December 1996 with signing of the Agreement for a Firm and Lasting Peace.

The Commission for Historical Clarification (CEH) registered a total of 42,275 casualties by human rights violations and acts of violence, of that 23,671 were victims of arbitrary execution and 6,159 by forced disappearance.

The CEH found that 83 per cent of the victims were Mayan and 93 per cent of the violations were attributed to state forces and related paramilitary groups.

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