Guatemala: Victims of War Crimes Denounce Impunity

GUATEMALA CITY (HPD) — A Guatemalan family denounced Thursday before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights that the State continues to violate their rights, after Guatemala failed to comply with the sentence imposed by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for crimes committed by agents of the Condition. They question whether they want to reverse the sanction and leave the case in impunity.

They are the Molina Thiessen family, relatives of Marco Antonio Molina Thiessen, who was arrested and disappeared in October 1981 when he was 14 years old, presumably in retaliation for the escape of his sister Emma Molina from a military barracks. She had been detained by Guatemalan state security agents for her political activism, according to the complaint.

The judgment of the Inter-American Court issued in 2004 against Guatemala ordered the State to investigate and bring to trial those responsible for the disappearance of Molina Thiessen 41 years ago now, as well as to search for her remains.

In a hearing to find out if the Guatemalan state had complied with the mandate, defenders of the Molina Thiessen said that the State has not searched for Molina Thiessen and that, on the contrary, the Prosecutor’s Office is processing a complaint against the family. They also criticized the criminalization of judges who sentenced those responsible for the disappearance of the then 14-year-old boy.

In 2018, a Guatemalan court imposed prison sentences of between 33 and 58 years in prison for crimes against the duties of humanity, for violation with aggravated sentence and for forced disappearance to the military Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, Manuel Antonio Callejas , Hugo Ramiro Zaldaña and Francisco Luis Gordillo, for the disappearance of Marco Antonio and the rape of his sister Emma Molina.

However, the family’s lawyers complained before the Court that the sentence, received at the time as a light, is not yet firm. They denounce that they are facing obstacles that seek to reverse the ruling and leave the case in impunity.

The defense requested that the Court make “a strong call to attention to the State” for the failure to comply with its ruling.

Ramiro Contreras, representing the State, said that Guatemala has indeed implemented actions to comply with the sentence. He cited, as an example, the creation of an Institute for the Victim, aimed at assisting victims of crimes. He also recalled the opening of a DNA data bank.

Gisela de León, lawyer for the relatives, stressed that almost 20 years after the sentence of the Inter-American Court, “unfortunately, in this time, the Molina family has not seen a single advance” in the search and location of the remains of Marco Antonio .

According to the complaints filed, the Guatemalan lawyer Karen Fisher, defender of soldiers accused of war crimes, denounced the members of the Molina Thiessen family for allegedly false accusations. She adduces the accusation that the youngest son was not disappeared and that he was the husband of one of her relatives.

Despite the fact that DNA analyzes were carried out that dismissed the relationship, the complaint from the Public Ministry is still open, the lawyers said.

In addition, they criticized the dismissal of one of the judges who sentenced the military. He is being investigated, according to the defense, with the intention of removing his immunity for an argument with police officers in a traffic incident.

“The context of persecution of the victims, family members, justice operators related to the criminal proceedings of serious violations committed during the armed conflict has continued,” concluded attorney Marcela Martino, from the Cejil organization that represents the victims.

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