PBI-Guatemala accompanies human rights law firm at hearing of retired military officer in the Military Journal case

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On August 2 at 11:53 am, Famdegua (the Association of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared of Guatemala) tweeted: “The hearing scheduled for today has not yet begun, in which the legal situation of Mavilo Aurelio Castañeda Bethancourt will be resolved. Stay tuned for the live feed on Facebook.”

Around 12:26 the hearing began.

On month ago, Canal Antigua reported: “The highest risk judge B decided to suspend the hearing of the first statement for the retired military officer Mavilo Aurelio Castañeda, to verify if his health condition allows him to face criminal proceedings [for the crimes of forced disappearance, duties against humanity and murder] in the Military Journal case. [Aurelio’s lawyers say his client] suffers from memory loss which means that he cannot face the process, so the judge of higher risk B, Miguel Ángel Gálvez proceeded to suspend the hearing.”

One week ago, Canal Antigua reported: “After receiving the reports from the National Institute of Forensic Sciences, the highest risk judge B, Miguel Ángel Gálvez, determined that Mavilo Aurelio Castañeda Bethancourt cannot face criminal prosecution. According to the medical reports, Castaneda is not in the full use of his mental faculties.”

That article added: “For this reason, the defense lawyer asked the judge to declare the suspension of the criminal prosecution against his sponsor, however the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the adhesive plaintiffs requested that a deadline be given for new examinations and determine if the drugs can help improve Castaneda’s state of health. The judge decided to postpone the hearing to Monday, August 2, and there to announce the decision regarding the petitions filed.”

Twelve former military and police officers are accused of having participated in the disappearance, torture and death of at least 183 people during the years 1983 to 1985, including students, university professors, trade unionists and members of social organizations that the Army identified as allies of the guerilla movement. The Military Journal is a record of the names, photographs, and addresses of the men and women who were arrested, detained, disappeared and murdered.

The Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project has been accompanying the Human Rights Law Firm (Bufete Jurídico de Derechos Humanos) during the Military Journal hearings that began after the arrests of the former military and police officers in late May.

UPDATE: At 1:47 pm, Famdegua tweeted: “The judge indicates that in the conditional suspension of the criminal prosecution that corresponds to the condition of Castañeda Bethancourt, a guardian must be appointed, the health of the accused is monitored, and the parties can enter into a specific procedure.” It further noted: “The court decrees in favor of Castañeda Bethancourt the conditional suspension of the criminal prosecution; the MP [Public Ministry] must continue with the investigation with the other accused and even with Castañeda, which does not mean that the process is paralyzed.”

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