Sexual violence: Ex-soldiers in Guatemala gets 30 years jailtext_fields
Guatemala City: A Guatemala court sentenced five ex-paramilitary soldiers to 30 years imprisonment for sexually abusing 36 indigenous women here during the civil war, Agence France-Presse reported.
The court said that it is convinced by the testimonies of the women who faced the violence. The convicted, who were members of Civil Self-Defense Patrols (PAC) in Guatemala, were charged with crimes against humanity, the court said.
The five men heard the verdict through video conference from a jail in the capital, where they were lodged for crimes committed in the town of Rabinal, north to the capital. The men, siblings Benvenuto and Bernardo Ruiz and relatives Damian, Gabriel and Francisco Cuxum, all are in their sixties.
The country was at war during1960-1996, and an estimated 2,00,000 people were killed or disappeared during the period. The war had harshly hit the population of Rabinal. A mass grave of more than 3,000 people was found there.
In the last decade, 36 women came forward with the accusations of sexual violence they were subjected to. The trial was commenced on January 5, a decade after the first complaint was registered.
One of the women, Margarita Siana of 59, told AFP that she was raped when she was 19 years old. She was taken to a military detachment, and soldiers violated her, but the patrolmen in her village should be blamed. She added that she suffered a lot at the detachment for three months.
Many women testified that they were attacked before their relatives, some said they were forced after their husbands got murdered or forced to disappear.
Lawyer for some of the affected women, Lucia Xiloj, said that it is proven that the internal armed conflict in the country was the Guatemalan state's strategy.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guatemala tweeted that the conviction was a landmark advance for the women victims in accessing the rights to truth, justice and reparation.
Meanwhile, the relatives of the five convicted launched protests at the judicial complex claiming that the charges were false, demanding their freedom.