International and national organizations warned about a new attempt by the Constitutional Court (CC) to maintain impunity for the crimes committed in the Molina Theissen Case. The CC’s decision orders that a new resolution be issued, which may favor house arrest for the former military officials, Francisco Luis Gordillo Martínez, Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, Hugo Ramiro Zaldaña Rojas, and Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, who were sentenced for serious crimes against humanity committed against Marco Antonio and Emma Molina Theissen in 1981.
We share with you the statement from our counterpart CALDH, we join them standing in solidarity with the Molina Theissen family and denouncing this act of impunity.
Tailor-made Judgements: A Constitutional Court that Pretends to Grant de facto Amnesty
In a complete breach of the law, the Constitutional Court (CC) ordered the First Court of Appeals to issue an illegal resolution. This is an attempt to grant a substitute measure in favor of the former military Francisco Luis Gordillo Martínez, Manuel Antonio Callejas Callejas and Manuel Benedicto Lucas García who were convicted in their first trial of the crimes of forced disappearance, rape with aggravated sentence and crimes against humanity in the Molina Theissen Case. Once again, the CC has shown that it is tailor-made for military accused and convicted of serious crimes against humanity such as forced disappearance, sexual violence and genocide.
On August 19, 2020 the First Chamber of the Court of Appeals, in strict adherence to the law, denied special protection for the military, arguing that the substitute measure of house arrest, a lesser sentence than the original one, cannot be applied in cases of aggravated rape.
Now, after three years, the Constitutional Court rules that the Chamber must, within a period of 5 days, issue a new resolution that grants the substitute measure for the convicted: ” must reach a decision consistent with this ruling, which must be carried out within a period of five days counted from when this decision is received, under warning that, in case of non-compliance, a fine of two thousand quetzales (Q. 2,000.00) will be incurred, notwithstanding civil responsibilities. and consequent penalties…”
It comes as no surprise that such characters as Héctor Hugo Pérez Aguilera, Roberto Molina Barreto and Luis Alfonso Rosales Marroquin have returned to this Court. Let us remember that the first two were part of the CC that arbitrarily reversed, without precedent, the genocide verdict in 2013 against General José Efraín Ríos Montt, sentenced to 80 years in prison for genocide and crimes against the duties of humanity. Roberto Molina Barreto’s ties to the Ríos family are evident as he was paired with Ríos Montt’s daughter in their defeated candidacy during the last electoral contest. For his part, Rosales Marroquín was Ríos Montt’s defense attorney during the process in which it was proven that there was in fact genocide in Guatemala.
Resolutions such as the one issued in the Molina Theissen case not only send a disastrous message to judges and magistrates who try to act in accordance with the law, but also violate the right of victims to receive justice. It also dangerously opens the door to other convicted perpetrators of sexual violence who, pleading advanced age, can request the same benefit.
We stand in solidarity with the Molina Theissen family and denounce this act of impunity.
Guatemala, March 7, 2023
Center for Legal Action on Human Rights- CALDH
Community Studies and Psychosocial Action Team- ECAP
Security in Democracy- SEDEM
Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit – UDEFEGUA
Read the statement in Spanish below