Extrajudicial Executions and Torture Case

Extrajudicial Executions and Torture Case

STATEMENT 101 | Photo: Radio Punto.

On October 29, 2018, the Special Prosecutor’s Office against Impunity with the support of the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, CICIG, uncovered the case known as: “Extrajudicial Executions and Torture.” Fourteen search warrants and four out of five arrest warrants issued by the High-Risk Court “A” were executed. One accused person, who served as Deputy Minister of the Interior, is still on the run. The case is currently in the initial hearing statement.

The investigation evidenced extrajudicial executions and tortures committed by a parallel criminal structure operating within the Ministry of the Interior from 2004 to 2007.


In 2005, 19 prisoners escaped from the prison known as “El Infiernito.” The authorities of the Ministry of the Interior then launched the so-called Plan Gavilán(Sparrowhawk) with the aim of recapturing the escapees. The criminal structure used public infrastructure and resources to locate them, and once they were located, the death squad of the Ministry of the Interior and the PNC executed the detainees. Some of those who were not executed were victims of torture.

The structure operating within the Ministry of the Interior and the National Civil Police committed serious violations of due process and human rights against the people who, being already under custody, were extrajudicially executed or tortured. The members of the said structure were investigated and tried in 2013 for different crimes. At this time, the investigation refers to 7 new events that have not been tried in national or foreign courts. These are new victims executed on different dates and places.

More information on the background of this case is available at View here

In this context, on October 29, the High-Risk Court “A” issued an arrest warrant against the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Kamilo José Rivera Gálvez, appointed in January 2018 as head of security.  Mr. Rivera is accused of committing extrajudicial executions when he served as a member of the National Civil Police’s (PNC) Anti-Kidnap Unit in 2005.  Mr. Rivera escaped on the day of the operatives and is at large; the Court declared him in absentia.  On the same day of his escape, the Deputy Minister submitted his resignation letter.

Former Minister of the Interior, Carlos Roberto Vielman (2004 – 2007) was captured as well. He allegedly led the structure and directly participated in acts of torture, according to the direct testimony of some of the victims.

 The high profile of the people linked to the process has unleashed a strong disinformation and disqualification campaign against the Special Prosecutor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Office, and CICIG. Regarding reports that do not conform to reality or are biased, the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala-CICIG informs:


About the non bis in idem principle

The crimes reported correspond to new facts and are different from those presented in previous cases.  It explicitly refers to seven alleged criminal acts (three extrajudicial executions and four tortures), actions that have not yet been filed or charged in domestic or foreign courts before. Therefore, there is no violation of the procedural principle that states that no person shall be prosecuted or punished more than once for the same act (non bis in idem, Article 17 of the Code of Criminal Procedure).

Contrary to what has been pointed out, Mr. Carlos Vielmann is not accused of belonging to the criminal structure that operated in the Ministry of the Interior (conspiracy) since at the time of the events the Law against Organized Crime was not in force. He is charged with specific crimes of extrajudicial executions and torture, which have not been tried before.

The facts that Audiencia Nacional de España judged against Carlos Roberto Vielmann Montes refer to other events, which occurred at a different time and place, related to extrajudicial executions of victims other than those charged as detailed below:

Victims of extrajudicial executions for whom he was charged in Guatemala and Spain

Victims for whom he is being charged at present

  • Edwin Santacruz Rodriguez (“Río Hondo”), November 3, 2005
  • Julián Morales Blanco and José María Maldonado Sosa (“Las Cuevas”), December 1, 2005
  • José Abraham Tiniguar Guevara (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Mario Misael Castillo (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Jorge Eduardo Batres Pinto (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Luis Alfonso Zepeda González (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Carlos René Barrientos Vásquez (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Gustavo Adolfo Correa Sanchez (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Erick Estuardo Mayorga Guerra (Pavón), September 25, 2006
  • Hugo Humberto Ruiz Fuentes, November 14, 2005
  • Douglas SadielArauz Palacios, December 20, 2005
  • Adonis Asael Murillo, December 20, 2005

People tortured for whomhe is being charged at present

  • Marco Tulio López y López, October 23, 2005
  • Luis Humberto Arana Sarceño, October 23, 2005
  • July Oswaldo García Palacios, November 19, 2006
  • Isaías López Castillo, October 25, 2005

Quality of evidence

Sharpcriticism has circulated against the inmates, questioning their credibility and hence the robustness of the investigation.

The evidence in the case includes more than 50 witness statements from Guatemalan citizens who witnessed the events, some of them because they were present in the place where the events took place, and others who were aware of the facts because they were national police agents and officials of the Judiciary, among others. Each citizen gave his testimony with courage and with the sole purpose of collaborating with truth and justice.

Besides the witness statements provided both at the headquarters of the Attorney General’s Office and those submitted to a competent judge as advanced trial evidence,official documents are confirming the witnesses’ statements as well as scientific findings that strengthen the hypothesis of the case.

Of the more than 50 testimonies, four are of inmates. These witnesses have only spoken of the acts of torture of which they were the direct victims. Their statements will not be used as evidence of extrajudicial executions. These four people are still serving their sentence as detainees and have not been favored nor have they received prison privileges or other benefits. They are not ‘cooperating witnesses’ nor will they have any sentence reduction for their testimony. 

Regarding the offer of benefits to the witnesses

There are no ‘cooperating witnesses’ nor have any witnesses been offered or granted economic benefits or otherwise in this case. 

In this regard, the audio that supposedly registers the negotiation between FECI prosecutors and the inmate, Marco Tulio López has been disclosed. The purpose of this alleged negotiation is to get Mr. López to declare as a witness in exchange for benefits. Such recording was edited, and the Attorney General’s Office is to verify its accuracy or alteration. This audio was possibly recorded in 2013, in the framework of a request for evidence by the Swiss Confederation, in the process against Mr. Sperissen, who was sentenced in that country.

The statements of Mr. Marco Tulio used as evidence in this investigation were provided to the Attorney General’s Office and a Judge in 2011 and 2012, respectively, before the recording of the audio.

The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala takes this opportunity to reiterate that human rights are universal and must be guaranteed regardless of sex, race or social origin.  It is a serious situation that government officials responsible for ensuring the safety of all citizens have committed the crimes of extrajudicial execution and torture, especially of people under their custody. It distorts the role of the State as guarantor of due process, the protection of the defense and guarantee of human rights. This case has the profile of an illegal and clandestine security apparatus (cuerpo ilegal y aparato clandestino de seguridad, CIACS) in its purest definition, which is the reason for the creation and operation of CICIG.

We trust that due process will be followed, and Guatemalan courts will clarify the facts free of undue pressure and influence.