Four Guatemalan soldiers convicted of crimes against humanity will be in court on August 19 to request early leave from prison

Published by Brent Patterson on

Photo: Emma Guadalupe Molina Theissen and her mother who is holding a photograph of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen.

On August 18, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “PBI accompanies the family in the Molina Theissen case looking for justice.”

Nomada reports: “This Wednesday, August 19, the Higher Risk Chamber will hear a request to leave the prison of Benedicto Lucas, Manuel Callejas, Hugo Zaldaña and Luis Gordillo, soldiers sentenced in the Molina Theissen case.”

The Guardian has provided the further context: “[On September 27, 1981, 21-year-old social and political activist Emma Guadalupe Molina Theissen] was taken for interrogation to a military base in Quetzaltenango, western Guatemala, but refused to collaborate.”

“She was given electric shocks to the eyelids, was raped by her captors, and deprived of food and water to create sensory disorientation. Emma escaped by slipping through the cell railings because she had lost so much weight.”

“She fled to Mexico a few weeks later, unaware that her little brother [14-year-old Marco Antonio Molina Theissen] had been taken [on October 6, 1981], most likely in retaliation for her audacious escape.”

In April 2016, PBI-Guatemala noted: “This month we observed the Molina Thiessen family press conference, inviting the people of Guatemala to accompany them to the evidence hearing on 19 April.”

And in October 2017, PBI-Guatemala further noted: “The Molina Thiessen trial will begin on March 1, 2018.”

On May 23, 2018, the four former soldiers were convicted of crimes against humanity and aggravated sexual abuse against Emma Guadalupe. Three of them were also found guilty of the forced disappearance of Marco Antonio.

The three received a sentence of 58 years in prison, while one was sentenced to 33 years.

Regarding the upcoming court case, Nomada has noted: “The Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) warns that the hearing could be part of a strategy to use the COVID-19 pandemic as an argument to be released from jail.”

The body of Marco Antonio has never been found.

Earlier this week, the Molina Theissen released this statement that says: “We express…our total indignation and absolute rejection of the possibility that the measure of coercion be modified to house arrest, which will not only guarantee impunity, but will also increase the risk of escape of the convicts. This constitutes a clear violation of the country’s legal system and of our right to justice, as well as a disrespect for the commitments assumed by the Guatemalan State before the Inter-American human rights system.”

Update: A further detailed review of this situation is now available from the International Justice Monitor at Convicted Military Officials in Molina Theissen Case Seek Release.

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