Ex-soldier sentenced to more than 5,000 years for 1982 massacre

Santos Lopez Alonzo, a former Guatemalan soldier, has been sentenced ( AP )

A court in Guatemala has sentenced a former soldier to 5,160 years in prison for the massacre of 171 people in what is considered one of the worst atrocities in the country’s civil war. 

Prosecutors said former soldier Santos Lopez participated in the 1982 mass killings of nearly all of the men, women and children in the farming village of Dos Erres.

The 66-year-old was sentenced after he was deported from the United States in 2016 to face court in Guatemala, where he was found “responsible as author” for the killings.

He was jailed on Wednesday for 30 years for crimes against humanity and then 30 years for each of the 171 victims.

Lopez was accused of being part of the elite Special Patrol of Kaibiles that was sent to Dos Erres to find members of a guerrilla group that had ambushed a military convoy.

When the patrol failed to find the guerrillas or guns, they pulled villagers from their homes and raped many of the young girls, according to prosecutors. To cover up the rapes, they are said to have killed nearly everyone living there.

The massacre was carried out during the regime of former Guatemalan military dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who died in April facing charges of genocide for acts during one of the bloodiest phases of the Cold War-era conflict that lasted from 1960 until 1996.

Lopez was also accused of kidnapping and adopting 5-year-old Ramiro Osorio Cristales, whose family was murdered in the massacre.

Mr Osorio testified against Lopez at his trial, Sky News reports.

Around 200,000 people were killed and another 45,000 disappeared during the conflict in Guatemala, which lasted from 1960 to 1996, according to a United Nations truth commission.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

Credit: standard.co.uk

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