Torture and extrajudicial executions from 2004 to 2007

Torture and extrajudicial executions from 2004 to 2007

  STATEMENT 088 | Photo: Prensa Libre.

Fourteen search warrants and four out of five arrest warrants issued by the High-Risk Criminal Court of First Instance “A” were carried out today regarding the joint investigation by the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity (Fiscalía Especial Contrala Impunidad, FECI) and the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala).

The investigation established seven new events on the extrajudicial executions thata parallel criminal structure within the Ministry of Interior carried out from 2004 to 2007. The new crimes to be charged are based on recent evidence that proves the participation of an illegal body and clandestine security apparatus (cuerpo ilegal y aparato clandestino de seguridad, CIACS) in the most classic sense.

Following are the arrest warrantsand charges for this case:

  1. Kamilo José Rivera Gálvez, extrajudicial execution (Fugitive).
  2. Carlos Roberto Vielmann Montes, extrajudicial execution, torture (Captured).
  3. Suhairam Stu Velasco Crispin, extrajudicial execution (Captured).
  4. Francisco Guarcas de Paz, extrajudicial execution(Captured).
  5. Víctor Manuel Ruiz González, extrajudicial execution (Captured).

The following persons will be summoned:

  1. Axel Arnoldo Martínez Arreaza, extrajudicial execution (he is currently serving his sentence).
  2. Erwin Johann Sperisen Vernon, torture (sentenced in Geneva, Switzerland).
  3. Victor Hugo Soto Diéguez, extrajudicial execution, torture (he is currently serving his sentence).


 On October 22, 2005, 19 prisoners escaped from the high-security prison in Escuintla, known as “ElInfiernito.” At that time, the authorities started the so-called Gavilán Plan to recapture the fugitives. What appeared to be a standard order of the law enforcement in a prison break situation, was only a legal facade for what later became a death squad that operated with the approval of the highest public security officials of the Ministry of Interior and the National Civil Police (PNC).

 Thus, the CIACS operating within the Ministry of Interior and the National Civil Police committed severe violations of human rights and due process of the people who, being already under custody, were extrajudicially executed. They used an entire state infrastructure to locate the escapees, and then the death squad decided how to execute them.

In recent investigations, it was established that the former Head of the Criminal Intelligence Services, Víctor Soto, told one of the victims that the plan was called “Gavilán” (Sparrowhawk) because like these birds, the squad would take its prey (the escapees) in one place and execute them in another.

 The extrajudicial executions showed common patterns: first, the group participating in the “Gavilán” Plan was designated to locate the escapees as well as others, and once they were found or captured, the death squad comprised of PNC and MINGOB officialswent and killed them.They wore hoods, command-type clothes and long weapons (AK-47 and AR-15). The group located the escapees and took them to remote places where they executed them. They then altered the crime scenes to make them seem as though the criminals had confronted the squad agents. Many times, the same weapon used to kill them was placed on the deceased’s hands. Finally, the highest authorities went to the crime scene to give the appearance of legality, and even gave interviews to the media reinforcing the official version of the alleged confrontation.

New Events

 The investigation focuses on seven new events in which this criminal structure participated and have not been tried in national or international courts. There is sufficient evidence to indicate that the CIACS used the following criminal structure in the events described:

The former Minister of the Interior Carlos Roberto Vielmann Montes and the then Director of the National Civil Police, Erwin Johann Sperisen Vernon were in charge of the operations. They designated operational heads who were responsible for the groups of agents thatcarried out the criminal actions.

Two groups acted in these events: a group led by the adviser to the Minister of Interior,Víctor José Rivera Azuaje, now deceased, and other led by Víctor Hugo Soto Diéguez, Head of the Criminal Investigation Services (SIC). Some of the agents who were identified or mentioned by witnesses are the following:

  1. The group commanded by Víctor Sotocomprised of 1) Francisco Guarcas De Paz, former National Civil Police agent assigned in the Vehicles Section (SIC), and 2) Víctor Manuel Ruiz González, former SIC Head of Operations. This group also included the investigators: 3) Luis Arturo Herrera López, 4) José Adolfo Gutiérrez Marvin and 5) Marvin Langen Escobar Méndez.
  2. In the group commanded by Víctor Rivera were: 6) Kamilo Rivera (currently Deputy Minister of Security in the Ministry of the Interior); 7) Axel Arnoldo Martínez Arriaza (sentenced to 25 years for extrajudicial execution in the Zacapa case), and 8) Suhairam Stu Velasco Crispin, former deputy director of DEIC.

The evidence supporting the new events attributed to this criminal structure, regarding the extrajudicial execution in Barberena, consists of 43 testimonies, of which six were recently received for advanced trial evidence, necropsy, ballistics, and police reports. Thirteen testimonies were provided for the second event (extrajudicial execution in zone 5), 7 of them received as advanced trial evidence.

This evidence established that three people were extrajudicially executed and false clashes with law enforcement were staged in the following cases: Hugo Humberto Ruiz Fuentes (Barberena), Douglas SadielArauz Palaces (zone 5) and Adonis Asael Murillo, Honduran citizen who was not involved in the events.

According to the testimony received as anticipated evidence, Carlos Roberto Vielmann Montes, Erwin Sperisen Vernon, and Johan Victor Hugo Soto Diéguez tortured four people in the premises of the National Civil Police.

Breach of citizen warranties

It is the opinion of the Attorney General’s Office and CICIG that this type of events should not occur again in any security institution. Anyone who is captured remains under the protection of the State and must be brought before a judge to explain the reasons for his arrest and to be subjected to a legal process that is respectful of his constitutional rights. No offense, nor even those committed by the fugitives, justifies the security forces operating as criminals.  Allowing and consenting such actions generate a situation of vulnerability for the whole society.



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