On Friday, July 28th, 2023, a hearing to review the substitutive measures for Benedicto Lucas García, accused of genocide and crimes against humanity in the Lucas García Ixil genocide case was held. The plaintiff organizations denounced this new attempt to hinder access to justice for victims and survivors.
Although the hearing did not take place on this occasion due to the absence of the defendant and his attorney, it is worrisome that despite having been sent to trial since October 2019, the start of the oral and public debate to attribute responsibilities continues to be delayed, due to malicious legal strategies such as this attempt to get substitutive measures and the generalized co-optation of the justice system.
Read the full statement below
The Association for Justice and Reconciliation ( AJR) and The Guatemalan Archbishop’s Office of Human Rights (ODHAG)
Before the national and international public opinion, we denounce:
On Friday, July 28th, 2023, through illegal representative actions, contrary to what is established in the penal procedural code and thus affecting the judicial process, Ms. Karen Fischer as representative of the ex Chief of the General Army Staff, retired General Manuel Benedicto Lucas Garcia, will present a memorial in which they will seek to influence the good faith of the judges who form the High Risk Tribunal “A”, in order to exchange the current preventative prison for house arrest in the case that we have brought against Lucas García for genocide, crimes against humanity and forced disappearance committed against the Maya Ixil ethnic group during the administration of General Romeo Lucas Garcia (1978-1982).
In the same case, the ex-Chief of Military Intelligence Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas is also being processed. Both were sentenced for crimes against humanity, forced disappearance, and sexual violence in the case known as Molina Theissen. Further, Benedicto Lucas is currently being tried in the CREOMPAZ case for his participation in hundreds of forced disappearances in the Military Zone No. 21, located in Cobán, Alta Verapaz. In the Molina Theissen case, the accused were favored with substitute measures, violating the rights of the victims, and the accused’s legal teams are looking to achieve the same in the CREOMPAZ case.
In order to achieve this, in our case they have referred to psychiatric reports conceived, ordered, and processed by Ms. INGRID JOHANA ROMERO ESCRIBA, current director of the National Institute of Forensic Sciences (INACIF), who is also the daughter of Coronel Augusto Romero, cousin of Judge Dina Josefina Ochoa Escriba and lawyer of the fugitive of justice retired major Alfonso Tarzo de León Maldonado, presumed author of forced disappearance, torture, and extrajudicial executions in the Diario Militar case, all of which serves as evidence of Ms. Romero Escriba’s bias and personal interest in favor of the military officials on trial. These military officials, in spite of their advanced age and without signs of remorse, continue to deny the facts and deny their responsibility in front of the hundreds of surviving family members of the victims.
We alert and call for the judges and magistrates of the Judiciary, as well as the members of the Constitutional Court, to not allow themselves to be surprised or, still worse, deliberately lend themselves to these unlawful acts that are against due process. To the general population and the national and international human rights bodies, we call on you to demonstrate your support for the victims, and to the legal teams who are working on the cases and the judges on whom the responsibility falls, to apply swift and dutiful justice.
Guatemala de la Asunción, 07- 28-2023
Read the full statement in Spanish here