Guatemalan ex-soldiers get 12,060 years in prison each

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A Guatemalan court sentenced four former military officers to 12,060 years in prison each for the slaughter of more than 200 civilians in 1982 during the country's civil war.

"This court unanimously declared the accused as perpetrators of murder. For this crime, a sentence of 30 years in prison for each victim comes to a total of 6,030 years," the court said in its decision.

In addition, the court sentenced each former officer to another 30 years in prison for each murder of the 201 victims as a "crime against humanity by state security forces," bringing the total to 12,060 years in prison for each man.

The killings took place over three days in December 1982 as part of the country's 1960-1996 civil war. Witnesses said the victims included pregnant women, children and the elderly. The only survivors were several children.

The court said the killings were "perverse" because they "erased from the map" the village of Dos Erres in the Peten department.

The convicted men, Antonio Carlos Carias, Manuel Pop, Reyes Collin and Daniel Martinez, were part of the elite "Kabil" army force when they took part in the massacre, according to the charge sheet.

Pedro Pimentel has also been detained in connection with the case after being deported from the US last month. Another three men have been arrested in connection with the massacre, two of them in Guatemala and one in Canada.

The massacre occurred during the military regime of General Efrain Rios Montt, who is alleged to have ordered the attack.

The former army chief currently has two open cases against him in Spain and Guatemala for crimes against humanity.

The massacre at Dos Erres is one of the 699 cases documented by the Historical Clarification Commission, whose report cites around 200,000 casualties from Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

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