PBI-Guatemala accompanies Human Rights Law Firm at pre-trial evidentiary hearing in the Military Diary Case

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On March 8, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“#PBI accompanies the Human Rights Law Firm to the pre-trial evidentiary hearing against all those accused in the #MilitaryDiaryCase. The hearing was suspended due to the absence of a technical defence lawyer.”

The Military Diary gives an account of more than 195 victims of state security violence between 1983 and 1985. Those seen as “internal enemies” were disappeared. Of 183, it contains specific files, with details of their capture, the place where they were captured and what happened to each of them afterwards.

The code “300” at the end of entries is understood to mean they were executed.

On May 27, 2021, 11 retired military and former police officers were arrested for the disappearances detailed in Military Diary. Two of the arrested died without facing trial.

In May 2022 nine of them were sent to trial by Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez for their alleged participation in kidnappings, disappearances, torture and executions.

On May 11, 2022, the Associated Press reported: “A Guatemala judge who last week ordered nine former police and military officers to stand trial for alleged crimes during that country’s civil war, said Wednesday [May 11] that death threats against him had increased since announcing his decision.”

Judge Gálvez said: “They send me messages, they call me on the phone, there’s vehicles following; all of that is happening.”

He left Guatemala on November 4, 2022.

In PBI-Guatemala’s most recent monthly information package, they note:

“In the Diario Militar (DM) case, we were present at the hearing to review the coercive measures against the defendants Jacobo Esdras Salán Sánchez, former Army colonel, and Malfred Orlando Pérez Lorenzo, former member of the disbanded National Police (PN). They have been accused of crimes of forced disappearance, murder, attempted murder and crimes against humanity. Judge Rudy Eleazar Bautista Fuentes recognized that these crimes should not be granted alternative measures but accepted the petition anyway, and granted the measures on the basis of the defense’s arguments that pre-trial detention could worsen the health of the defendants. The two will have to pay a bail of Q6000 and present themselves every month at the Human Rights Prosecutor’s Office to sign a registration book. The judge’s decision caused much indignation among the relatives of the detained and disappeared and their lawyers expressed bewilderment.”

PBI-Guatemala has been accompanying the #CasoDiarioMilitar court hearing process that began in May-June 2021.

PBI-Guatemala is accompanying the law firm on three other court cases: the Hogar Seguro case (where officials and police are accused in the death of women and girls in a safe house fire), Samococh (the extrajudicial killing by police of Q’eqchi’ opposed to Santa Rita dam), and the Teacher case (the continued criminalization of Q’eqchi’ defender Bernardo Caal Xol).

PBI-Guatemala began to accompany Édgar Pérez Archila in August 2010, due to several security incidents Edgar had faced in relation to the high profile judicial processes he was working on.

At the end of 2013, PBI-Guatemala extended the accompaniment to the other lawyers at the BDH.

For more, CBC has reported the stories of three women – Wendy Mendez, Maria Consueleo Pérez, and Annabella Jiménez – who now live in Canada, but who lost loved ones who are listed in the Military Diary. That story by Erin Ellis can be read here.

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