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Guatemalan Ex-Cops Get 40 Years for Labor Leader’s Slaying

November 1, 2010

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan court sentenced two former police officers to 40 years in prison for the 1984 disappearance of labor leader Edgar Fernando Garcia.
The men sentenced Thursday, Hector Roderico Rios and Abrahan Lancerio, were arrested last year. Two other ex-cops wanted in connection with the case remain at large.
Garcia, 26, an engineering student at San Carlos University and an activist with the Guatemalan Labor Party, has been missing since his Feb. 18, 1984, arrest in Guatemala City.
His disappearance was “part of a systematic pattern of the state to eliminate opponents” under the 1983-1986 regime of Gen. Oscar Mejia, prosecutors said.
Joining the government as a plaintiff in the trial was attorney Alejandra Garcia, daughter of Edgar Garcia and Nineth Montenegro, now a member of the Guatemalan Congress.
“I have the right to know what happened to my dad. To this day, I continue hoping and I will die with the hope of seeing him,” Alejandra Garcia said after the former police were sentenced.
Montenegro, who founded the Mutual Support Group, or GAM, following her husband’s disappearance, expressed satisfaction with the court’s verdict.
GAM’s current director, Mario Polanco, told EFE the sentence represents another blow to impunity in Guatemala.
The conviction, which is subject to appeal, is the third handed down in cases of forced disappearance during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war.
A former military officer was sentenced in August 2009 to 150 years in prison for the disappearances of six indigenous persons in the 1980s, while three other erstwhile soldiers received sentences of 53 years each last December for the disappearances of eight peasants in 1981.
Guatemala’s civil war left some 250,000 people dead, including around 45,000 whose bodies were never found.

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