A Guatemalan court on March 13 sentenced Pedro Pimentel, a former member of a special forces unit of the army, to 6,060 years in prison for a 1982 massacre of more than 200 indigenous villagers during the country’s civil war.
The 54-year-old had been extradited from the United States last July to face the charges.
A former member of the Kaibiles death squad, Pimentel was sentenced to 30 years for each of the 201 victims. However, human rights groups, like Amnesty International, say that more than 250 villagers were killed, including children. The victims, residents of Dos Erres, in the northern department of Petén, were tortured, and women raped before the village was razed. Some of the children, including infants, were thrown in a well, according to accounts of the slayings.
Pimentel is the fifth former soldier of the unit to be sentenced for the killings. Last August four other soldiers were sentenced each to 6,060 years in prison but they will serve the legal maximum of 50 years.
Rights groups cheered his conviction and sentencing for crimes against humanity.
“For decades, the victims of grave human rights violations including the Dos Erres killings have clamoured for justice, truth and reparation,” said Sebastián Elgueta, Central America researcher at Amnesty International. “The convictions in these cases — while addressing only a tiny fraction of the huge number of war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the decades-long conflict — mark an important step in ending impunity for these crimes. However, higher ranking officers who were responsible have still to be brought to justice.”