Weekend News / World

Guatemala’s ex-police chief gets life

By Marion V. Ali, Staff Reporter

Erwin Sperisen, Guatemala’s ex-police chief is serving a life sentence in a Switzerland prison for the deaths of seven prisoners in 2006.

Sperisen, 43, was found guilty of being involved in extra-judicial killings that were committed during a police raid on the El Pavon prison outside Guatemala City. His trial took place in Geneva because he could not be extradited since he holds Swiss citizenship. The case was held under a law that allows Swiss nationals to be tried in their own country for crimes committed abroad.

The court found that Sperisen was involved in the deaths of seven inmates who were shot dead after security forces invaded the El Pavon prison and regained control from criminal gangs. It concluded that was “jointly responsible” for six murders and was “directly responsible” for one. Sperison maintains his innocence. He has indicated through one of his attorneys that he intends to appeal the verdict.

Sperisen was acquitted in Geneva of charges relating to the deaths of three escaped prisoners in 2005, one year after he was appointed Guatemala’s police chief. He fled to Switzerland in 2007.

(Pic: BBC World/AFP)

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