Sunday, December 04, 2022

Guatemala: Order to Investigate Civilian for War Crimes

GUATEMALA CITY ( Associated Press) — A Guatemalan judge has ordered an investigation into a civilian accused of war crimes who was a fugitive and was arrested in Panama a few days ago while fleeing justice. The judge also ordered that he remain in prison while the prosecution investigates.

Toribio Acevedo Ramírez, a 68-year-old lawyer and former head of security at the Cementos Progreso cement company, is accused of the crimes of forced disappearance, murder and against the duties of humanity of dozens of people when he served as Head of Military Intelligence Operations in the eighties.

The aforementioned is part of the investigation called “Diario Militar”, which alludes to a dossier found in 1999 and that would have been prepared by agents of the Guatemalan State who documented captures, forced disappearances, torture and murders of 183 people during the eighties, in middle of the civil war. According to a protected witness, Acevedo Ramírez would have participated along with other state officials, such as police and military, in war crimes.

Acevedo Ramírez was arrested on May 10 at the airport in Tocumen, Panama. A week earlier, the same judge, Miguel Ángel Gálvez, had ordered the prosecution to search for him and prosecute him for his involvement in the reported crimes.

The defendant must remain in prison while the prosecution deepens the investigations. The judge also set a deadline of three months for the investigations.

Judge Gálvez, who hears the case, previously ordered that nine police and military officers stand trial for the forced disappearance of 14 people, crimes against the duties of humanity of 21 people, and the murder of three people who appear in the “Diario Militar.”

In his petition, the judge revealed some of the torture to which the victims, including university students, professionals, trade unionists, human rights defenders, and even children, were allegedly subjected.

“They ripped out his nails or his tongue. There were rapes and electrocutions in people’s genitals,” Judge Gálvez said then, who also revealed that to hide the torture they had put the victims on planes and then thrown them into the sea, some of them still alive.

The judge has denounced being a victim of harassment, surveillance and death threats as a result of his judicial decisions, which has raised alarms in various national and international organizations that have asked the Guatemalan government to protect him. He already has precautionary measures from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

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