Photo: A woman stands over the remains of some of the victims of the 1982 massacre in Guatemala
Four former soldiers have been sentenced to more than 6,000 years each for the 1982 Guatemalan massacre that occurred during the country’s 36-year civil war that lasted from 1960 to 1996.
Three of the men sentenced in the Guatemalan court, Manuel Pop Sun, Reyes Collin Gualip and Daniel Martinez, were once members of the Guatemalan military’s elite Kaibil unit, and were sentenced to 6,060 years each. The fourth man, Carlos Antonio Carias, was an army second lieutenant sentenced to 6,066 years.
The four men were convicted of killing 201 men, women, and children. They each received 30 years for each death, and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity. Carias was given an extra 6 years for stealing some of the victims’ belongings.
According to court documents, while more than 40 soldiers surrounded the community of Dos Erres, 17 Kaibiles attacked the villagers while looking for searching for weapons they believed guerrilla groups were hiding in the village.
The men raped and killed a number of women and girls, killed many men and boys, and banished a number of people from the village. Among the dead were 67 children under the age of 12. It has been reported that some of the soldiers strangled, shot, and beat villagers with sledgehammers.
Though survivors and family members of the deceased were grateful justice had been served, the 6000-year sentences are primarily symbolic, as Guatemalan law does not allow people to be jailed for more than 50 years.