PBI-Guatemala accompanies Human Rights Law Firm at court hearing on Hogar Seguro shelter fire
On March 15, PBI-Guatemala posted: “PBI accompanies the lawyers of the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) in the hearing to advance evidence of the survivors of the fire at the Hogar Seguro state orphanage. Given that the judge declared total confidentiality of the testimonial statements of the adolescents, the hearing is held behind closed doors.”
La Hora further reports that three survivors of the fire would testify.
On March 8, 2017, 56 girls between the ages of 13 and 17 were locked in a room at the Hogar Seguro shelter. 41 died in that fire, 15 were seriously injured.
By November 2017, The Guardian reported: “Initially, three people – the former minister of social welfare, his deputy and the director of the shelter – were charged with negligent homicide, abuse of power and mistreatment of minors. In June, three government officials and two police officers were also charged.”
Earlier this month, EFE reported: “At least eight people including police officers and authorities have been charged with the deaths of minors.”
CNN has reported that five are accused of breach of duties, wrongful death, mistreatment of minors and wrongful injuries.
One of those is Lucinda Marroquín, the former deputy inspector of the National Civil Police, is accused of not opening the locked room for 9 minutes after the fire started.
That CNN article adds that Santos Torres, the former director of Hogar Seguro, also faces five criminal charges, including abuse and homicide.
Al Jazeera has reported: “Some of the victims of the March 8, 2017 fire in the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter had run away from home, fleeing abuse and sexual assault by relatives. But many faced more of the same inside the shelter.”
That article adds: “For years, girls reported being raped and forced into prostitution inside the state-run facility, but their protests were ignored.”
And The Guardian has reported: “More than 700 children lived at the home, which had capacity for 400-500.”
BDH lawyer Edgar Pérez had also sought then-President Jimmy Morales to stand trial. Pérez says: “The president contributed to the explosion. He lit the match.”
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied Pérez since August 2010 and then extended that accompaniment to the other lawyers at BDH in 2013.