PBI-Guatemala accompanies BDH lawyers as Judge decides on pre-trial detention measures for six ex-military officers

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On June 10, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted: “PBI accompanies the lawyers of the Human Rights Law Firm (Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos) on the 8th day of the first statement hearing in the #CasoDiarioMilitar; today the judge resolves on the coercive measures of the people linked to the process for forced disappearance and crimes against the duties of humanity.”

Prensa Libre adds: “According to Judge Galvez, the six detainees will continue in pretrial detention in Mariscal Zavala and [on] Thursday, June 10 he will decide whether to send them to pretrial detention or grant them any alternative measures.”

Reuters has reported: “A judge in Guatemala on Wednesday [June 9] charged six ex-military members for their alleged participation in the death and forced disappearance of at least 183 civilians during Guatemala’s civil war in the 1980s.”

“Judge Miguel Galvez said there was sufficient evidence to bring the retired soldiers to trial for the 1983-1985 crimes, part of a conflict between leftists and the government from 1960-1996 that killed 200,000 people. About 45,000 people are thought to have been forcibly disappeared after they were kidnapped.”

“Another six people arrested on suspicion of the crimes were not yet charged but remain in detention, some in other cities and others in hospital facilities.”

“The dozen suspects are named in a 73-page document known as the ‘Military Diary’, in which the alleged perpetrators recorded kidnappings, executions, tortures and sexual assaults. The document also contains a list of the 183 victims in which they are described as ‘subversive’ and a ‘threat’ to the government.”

That article adds: “Conservative lawmakers on Monday [June 7] presented a bill seeking to remove criminal responsibility from military members who participated in crimes during the conflict.”

It’s not clear when the trial will begin. Plaza Publica notes: “Now begins a new stage of the process for [the prosecution]. They must provide all the evidence and file an indictment in order for the case to go to trial. This, with the pressure of a group of deputies that seeks to pass a law so that all these cases go unpunished.”

It adds: “The defendants are Enrique Cifuentes de la Cruz, Edgar Corado Samayoa and Jacobo Esdras Salán Sánchez, for the crimes of enforced disappearance, murder and attempted murder. Rone René Lara for attempted murder and José Daniel Monterroso Villagrán and Edgar Virginio De León Sigüenza for enforced disappearance.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm on all eight days of the first statement hearings.

Among the victims identified by the prosecution is the brother of Aura Elena Farfán, one of the founders of the Mutual Support Group (GAM) and later the organization Relatives of Detainees and Disappeared of Guatemala (Famdegua).

The Mutual Support Group was created in 1984 to bring together the families of people illegally detained and forcibly disappeared in Guatemala during the Internal Armed Conflict that lasted from 1960 to 1996.

GAM has noted: “Due to threats, the group met weekly in the house of Peace Brigades International and on Fridays marches and demonstrations were held in front of the Public Ministry, near the National Palace.”

It was the murder of GAM activists Hector Gomez on March 30, 1985 and Maria Rosario Godoy de Cuevas on April 3, 1985 that gave rise to the idea of PBI providing physical accompaniment to at-risk defenders.

Photo: PBI-Guatemala accompanies the GAM in 1994.

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