Latin America & Caribbean

Ex-paramilitaries jailed for Guatemala massacre

Five former paramilitaries linked to the slaughter of the village of Plan de Sanchez in Guatemala listen to their sentence
Image caption The men will only serve 50 years each, the maximum allowed by Guatemalan law

Five former members of right-wing Guatemalan paramilitaries have been sentenced to a total of 7,710 years in jail for their role in a 1982 massacre.

The men were charged with guiding the army to Plan de Sanchez, a rural community in northern Guatemala, and taking part in the ensuing massacre.

Many of the victims were women and children.

Nearly a quarter of a million people were killed in Guatemala's civil war which ran from 1960 to 1996.

Judge Jazmin Barrios set a sentence of 30 years for each of the 256 victims of the former paramilitaries, plus 30 years for crimes against humanity.

However Judge Barrios said that the five men would only have to serve 50 years each - the maximum sentence allowed under Guatemalan law.

The massacre at Plan de Sanchez was one of 600 documented by a United Nations Truth Commission.

The men were part of the Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil, a civilian militia created by the army to help fight leftwing rebels.

In 2004, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights found the Guatemalan state responsible for the killings at Plan de Sanchez and demanded it investigate the case and prosecute those responsible.

Last week, a former Guatemalan soldier was sentenced to 6,060 years in prison for his role in a massacre of 201 people in the village of Dos Erres, also in 1982.

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