On January 4, the oral and public debate for the Ixil Lucas García genocide case was scheduled to begin. A day before, a hearing was held to conclude on the mental health of Manuel Callejas y Callejas. The court resolved the cessation of criminal prosecution in an ordinary trial against Callejas who was released and ordered the Public Ministry to file a new petition for the trial of Callejas y Callejas to be carried out without the physical presence of the accused.
The case against Lucas Garcia will continue with his presence. This means that two separate trials will be held, although the court did not set dates for the debate against Lucas Garcia.The AJR and ODHAG remain steadfast in the pursuit of justice in this new scenario, as they pointed out in their pronouncement following the court’s resolution:
“Two separate trials await us, more than 30 years after the events, with more than 40 old men and women dead without seeing justice and facing a State that continues to deny our memory of the genocide. At the end of this road, the memory of our loved ones continues to give us strength and commitment, to whom we make a promise of love to make known the terror and pain of our history, and we can with our word, ignored for so long, inherit a little more justice for those who have always been denied life, dignity and existence”.
Read the full statement below:
DEMENTIA AND AMNESIA WILL NOT ERASE THE PERPETRATORS’ CRIMES
The Association for Justice and Reconciliation – AJR – and the Human Rights Office of the Archbishopric of Guatemala – ODHAG – release the following statement
Yesterday, the First Criminal Sentencing Court for High Risk processes, granted immediate release to retired General Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, who would have faced trial this January for his responsibility in more than 1000 deaths, forced disappearances, sexual violations and forced displacement, when he was Chief of Military Intelligence of the General Staff of the Guatemalan Army between 1978 and 1982.
The court ruling was issued after analyzing a series of medical, psychiatric and neurological expert reports – four prepared by the National Institute of Forensic Sciences – INACIF – and two conducted by experts in Neurology and Forensic Psychiatry proposed by AJR. All of the experts concluded that the General is incapable of standing trial because he suffers from progressive dementia due to Parkinson’s disease. The court ordered the trial to continue in another way without the presence of the accused.
The stance of AJR and its legal team, alongside the prosecutors in charge of the case, is coherent with our struggle for life and justice, including the right to life and health of the accused – rights that were not respected for the thousands of victims his actions created. We respect the conclusions of the doctors and experts, and we are preparing to proceed with the trial by another route as established by the law in these types of cases.
We clarify and reaffirm that this state of insanity DOES NOT ERASE OR ELIMINATE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF RETIRED GENERAL MANUEL ANTONIO CALLEJAS Y CALLEJAS in at least 1731 deaths of men, women, girls, boys and unborn children, in the context of 31 massacres and individual acts, 23 villages destroyed and looted, 40 forced disappearances, 30 events of rape and subjection to conditions of displacement that caused countless deaths of the Ixil population in the mountains between 1978 and 1982. These despicable acts threaten the conscience of humanity and continue to cause serious physical and psychological effects to the survivors and relatives of the victims, many of whom have died without seeing justice.
Therefore, we reaffirm that the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, with its legal team, is determined to continue with the TRIAL to demonstrate the responsibility of the accused Callejas y Callejas (today declared insane), as well as the accused, former Chief of the Army General Staff, Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, who is still in detention.
Two separate trials await us, more than 30 years after the events, with more than 40 elders who died without seeing justice and facing a State that continues to deny our memory of the genocide. At the end of this road, the memory of our loved ones continues to give us strength and commitment, to whom we make a promise of love to exposethe terror and pain of our history. We hope that with our stories, ignored for so long, we will inherit more justice for those who have always been denied life, dignity and existence.
Guatemala, January 04, 2024
Full Spanish Statement below