Guatemala’s Bol de la Cruz Found Guilty

Today Guatemala’s former national police chief Colonel Héctor Rafael Bol de la Cruz was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in the 1984 kidnapping and disappearance of 27-year-old student union leader Fernando Garcia, who was last seen when officers detained him outside his home. Along with Bol de la Cruz, former senior police officer Jorge Gomez was also tried; he received a sentence of 40 years in prison. That verdict comes in part because of testimony this month by HRDAG’s Patrick Ball, who served as an expert witness and presented data analysis done with colleague Daniel Guzmán to assess the flow of thousands of internal police records sent between the director’s office and his subordinate commands. The records prove that the chain of command was functioning at the time of García’s capture.

Patrick and Daniel were able to reconstruct the chain of command, which anchored their testimony, from documents retrieved from the Historic Archive of the National Police (AHPN), which was discovered in 2005. The Archive stores millions of documents detailing police operations dating from 1896. HRDAG has led the way in the sampling and analysis of those documents.

Bol de la Cruz was the chief of police from 1983 to 1985, during Guatemala’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. He is 73 years old, denies involvement in the disappearance and has said he will appeal the decision.

From a National Security Archive story:

On the strength of the prosecution, the judges found both defendants guilty as “intellectual authors” of the crime of forced disappearance of Fernando García and sentenced them to 40 years in prison. In her summary of the sentence, Judge Yassmín Barrios, the president of the “High Risk” Tribunal A, called on all Guatemalans to absorb the lessons of this and other human rights trials taking place in the country.

This Reuters article provides some more detail.

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