Guatemala choose threatened after choice on civil warfare crime

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GUATEMALA CITY — A Guatemala choose who final week ordered 9 former police and navy officers to face trial for alleged crimes throughout that nation’s civil warfare, mentioned Wednesday that loss of life threats towards him had elevated since saying his choice.

“They ship me messages, they name me on the telephone, there’s automobiles following; all of that’s occurring,” mentioned Justice of the Peace Miguel ngel Gálvez.

Gálvez is not any stranger to high-profile instances. He as soon as ordered former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt to be tried. “Earlier than that they had threatened me, however now they even come to hearings to {photograph} me,” he mentioned.

Final week’s case stemmed from a doc from Guatemala’s civil warfare recovered in 1999 often known as the “Navy Diary.” Inside, navy officers logged pressured disappearances, extrajudicial killings and the torture of 183 folks.

The boys on trial had been high-ranking navy and cops arrested final 12 months and implicated within the instances described within the doc by nature of the command positions they held when the crimes occurred between 1983 and 1986.

Along with the 9 ex-police and navy officers Gálvez ordered to face trial, he referred to as for prosecutors to seek out Toribio Acevedo Ramírez, a former head of navy intelligence. Panamanian authorities arrested Acevedo Ramírez Tuesday in Panama Metropolis’s airport.

Gálvez mentioned that in a listening to he acquired at the least 20 calls from a quantity in the USA. When he lastly answered, a voice on the opposite finish mentioned “if you happen to grasp up, you are going to keep in mind me.”

Gálvez mentioned he suspected the chief of the far-right Basis In opposition to Terrorism, FCT, Ricardo Rafael Méndez Ruíz, may very well be behind among the threats. Méndez Ruíz was sanctioned by the US State Division final 12 months as an undemocratic actor for allegedly obstructing prosecutions towards former navy officers by harassing and intimidating investigators.

Méndez Ruíz had written on social media that “It’s Miguel ngel Gálvez’s flip, the FCT will deal with it.” He mentioned Gálvez would pay for severe crimes he dedicated. “We’re going to see him locked up or exiled,” he wrote.

On Wednesday, Méndez mentioned he had filed a grievance towards the choose.

Gálvez mentioned the Supreme Courtroom ought to examine the threats, but it surely had to date not commented.

In the meantime, Gálvez fears the federal government is making an attempt to construct a case towards him, as has been the case with different judges and prosecutors who’ve labored on delicate corruption instances, that are additionally generally a part of his docket.

“They are going to attempt to withdraw my immunity as revenge for the selections,” Gálvez mentioned.

Juan Pappier, senior investigator for Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, mentioned it’s on Guatemalan authorities to forestall any assaults on Gálvez.

“This case follows a sample of intimidation towards unbiased judges and prosecutors who examine and criminally prosecute corruption and human rights crimes within the nation,” Pappier mentioned. “These assaults have left Guatemalan democracy hanging by a thread.”

The Guatemalan Judges for Integrity Affiliation condemned the threats as a “direct assault towards judicial independence.”

The USA and European governments have expressed concern in regards to the deterioration of Guatemala’s justice system. Plenty of revered judges and prosecutors who labored on corruption instances have fled into exile.

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