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Guatemala convicts ex-soldiers for raping indigenous women

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Posted: Tuesday, January 25, 2022. 10:12 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Guatemala’s Supreme Court, the BBC reports, has jailed five men belonging to the former so-called Civil Self-Defence Patrols, armed groups formed and supported by the military during its civil war, for raping dozens of indigenous Maya women.

The five each got 30 years in prison for assaulting 36 victims between the ages of 12 and 52.

The three-week trial at the Supreme Court in the capital, Guatemala City, included testimony from survivors and relatives of the victims of the Achi indigenous group.

The rapes, they said, happened around the village of Rabinal, north of the capital. The area, which was targeted heavily during the war, is the site of a mass grave with the bodies of more than 3,000 people.

The five were formally accused according to the presiding judge of “crimes against humanity,” perpetrating the rapes and adding further humiliation by tying up and urinating on the women. In all, some 200 thousand were killed or disappeared in the conflict between 1960 and 1996, most from indigenous groups targeted by the army and right-wing paramilitaries who claimed they supported the left-wing guerillas.

One survivor, Antonina Vale, said she lost a child after being raped, while another, Maxima Garcia, testified to being raped at seven months pregnant and losing her child while her mother was eight months pregnant and raped and killed.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala said the sentence was a “landmark advance in the access to the rights to truth, justice and reparation for female victims of sexual violence during” the war.

The five men heard the verdict via videoconference from the jail where they are being held.

 

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