A veteran of a notorious army unit was sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for his part in the 1982 massacre of 201 peasants in northern Guatemala.
The three-judge panel gave Pedro Pimentel 30 years for each of the victims, plus an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity, though Guatemalan law establishes a maximum prison term of 50 years.
The bloodbath took place on Dec. 7, 1982, in Dos Erres, a rural community in Peten province, during the rule of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, who has been under house arrest since January pending possible trial for genocide.
Two admitted perpetrators of the massacre identified Pimentel as one of the killers, but the defendant insisted he was in Guatemala City on the day of the slaughter.
“I come to deny that I participated,” the 55-year-old told the court.
Pimentel, who was extradited from the United States to stand trial for the Dos Erres massacre, belonged to Los Kaibiles, an elite counterinsurgency unit of the Guatemalan army. The court heard one expert witness, Peruvian retired Gen. Rodolfo Robles, describe members of that unit as “killing machines.”
Four other former Kaibiles were convicted and sentenced last August for Dos Erres, one of the 660 massacres documented by a truth commission that examined Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war.
Most of the conflict’s estimated 250,000 fatalities were indigenous peasants slain by the army and its paramilitary allies.