The UN human rights office (OHCHR) welcomed the latest conviction of a former Guatemalan soldier involved in the mass killing of villagers in an infamous massacre during the country’s civil war.
OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell told journalists in Geneva today (23 November) that the ruling against Santos López Alonso was another important step for transitional justice in Guatemala.
“We welcome the ruling this week by a Guatemalan court to convict and sentence a former soldier to 5,130 years in prison for his role in the Dos Erres massacre – one of the most shocking episodes of the country’s long civil war, when more than 200 people were killed in the village of Dos Erres in 1982.”
Throssell said the court had concluded that the crimes against humanity committed in Dos Erres were part of a larger state policy of the ruling military junta, which led to the loss of 200,000 lives and involved hundreds of massacres, carried out in indigenous Maya villages. She said, “Santos López Alonso, who was a member of an elite force of the Guatemalan military known as the Kaibiles, was found guilty of crimes against humanity and murder in 171 of these cases.”
The massacre was planned and involved all ages, with many women and girls reportedly raped, while children were thrown into the village well. The OHCHR spokesperson said, “The Kaibiles suspected the inhabitants of Dos Erres of sympathizing with left-wing guerrillas, and after carrying out a search of the village for weapons, they proceeded to systematically shoot or bludgeon to death hundreds of men, women and children.”
In an appeal to the Guatemalan authorities to continue to investigate and prosecute those responsible for crimes committed during the country’s 36-year civil war, Throssell noted that such trials have frequently been stalled by malicious use of injunctions.(UNTV CH)