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Soldiers jailed for 7,600 years over massacre

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Soldiers jailed for 7,600 years over massacre

Post  mara thon on Wed 21 Mar - 12:06



Five former Guatemalan soldiers have been sentenced to 7,600 years in prison for their role in a village massacre that left more than 250 men, women and children dead.

The men were charged with leading a group of soldiers in the attack on Plan de Sanchez in the Baja Verapaz region as they searched for leftist guerrillas in 1982.

According to authorities, the men entered the rural area with heavy arms and explosives during the height of the civil war and killed hundreds of villagers.

"The accused, Luca Tecu, Mario Acoj Morales, Santos Rosales Garcia, Julian Acoj Morales, and Eucebio Grave Galiano are responsible as the material culprits of the crime of murder committed against the lives and integrity of the people of Plan de Sanchez," Judge Jazmin Barrios said in court.

"For that crime they are sentenced to 30 years of prison for each person, totalling 7,600 years in the penitentiary."

Defendant Lucas Tecu said there had been no justice in the case.

"This body might be dying in prison, but my soul is safer than those who made this justice," he said after the sentencing.

Nearly a quarter of a million people were killed in Guatemala's 1960 to 1996 civil war and many thousands are still missing.

In recent years, Guatemala's ruling governments have been under increasing pressure by human rights organisations and international tribunals to bring war criminals to justice.

Juan Francisco Soto, director of the Centre for Legal Action for Human Rights (CALDH), said the sentences were a step forward for the nation.

"We feel placated with the resolution of this sentence that was given today," he said.

"It's a sign that the Guatemalan justice system is beginning to take steps to address the things that took place during the internal armed conflict."

Last week, a Guatemalan court sentenced elite soldier Pedro Pimentel to over 6,000 years in prison for his part in another civil war massacre.
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