Carlos Vielmann Montes
Carlos Vielmann Montes was born in 1956. He was a Guatemalan politician and Minister of the Interior of Guatemala between 2004 and 2007. He resigned over scandals connected to extrajudicial executions committed by the police. He then moved to Spain where he obtain citizenship in 2009.
During his mandate, several murders of detainees occurred when they were in power of the police and paramilitary forces under the alleged direct responsibility of Erwin Sperisen. Sperisen was Chief of the National Civil Police (PNC), appointed by Vielmann himself. Ten prisoners have allegedly been summarily executed during two operations to recapture fugitives and to quell prison riots:
- In October 2005, when 19 inmates escaped from the high-security compound of the Infiernito prison, officials of the PNC put in place the “Plan Gavilán”, to track down and execute the escapees and cover up the crime. Three escapees were reportedly murdered. The crime scene was later allegedly altered to hide the disproportionate use of force.
- On 25 September 2006, 3’000 policemen, members of the military and penitentiary officials were mobilized in order to regain control of the Pavón prison, taken over by a group of criminals. During the operation, 7 prisoners were executed, and the crime scene was allegedly camouflaged to give the impression of individual fights resulting in inevitable casualties. Vielmann allegedly authorised the operation and was himself on the crime scene. He was also constantly updated on the phone.
Following an inquiry by the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICG), Vielmann was arrested in Spain on 13 October 2010 but released on 23 November as there was no ground for his detention at that time. He was arrested again on 12 December 2010 and granted temporary release in May 2011 pending decision on his extradition to Guatemala.
In 2010, Vielmann was indicted for having formed, together with Erwin Sperisen, a parastatal criminal structure within the Ministry of the Interiorm, and for having ordered, authorised and supported murder of 7 prisoners in the Pavón prison and 3 in the Infiernito prison.
The request for extradition was dropped by the Guatemalan authorities in February 2012. Jurisdiction of Spain over the case was recognized.
On 4 November 2013, Vielmann was charged with extrajudicial executions before the Audiencia Nacional.
On 9 January 2017, the Prosecutor demanded for Vielmann 160 years of imprisonment and 300’000 euros’ compensation for each of the victims, while the plaintiffs asked the offences to be prosecuted as crimes against humanity. On the following day Vielmann pleaded not guilty.
The Audiencia Nacional acquitted Vielmann on 6 March 2017. According to the judgment, it was not proven beyond reasonable doubt that the accused had ordered, authorised, supported or otherwise acquiesced to the capture and murder of the fugitives, or that he had knowledge of the events leading to the deaths. The Court stressed that the mere existence of a hierarchical relation cannot in itself be considered as evidence of indirect participation in the commission of a crime. It also rejected the allegations of crimes against humanity stating that the necessary elements of the crime were not fulfilled, although acknowledging that the crimes committed in the Infiernito and Pavón prisons amounted to social cleansing. The Public Prosecutor’s Office and the Spanish Human Rights Association lodged an appeal against this decision with the Spanish Supreme Court.
The criminal division of the Supreme Court of Spain found that there was insufficient evidence that Vielmann participated in execution of the prisoners or that he could prevent the commission of these crimes. On 26 July 2018, the Supreme Court therefore rejected the appeal and confirmed the judgement of Audencia Nacional. The Court confirmed the acquittal on 30 July 2018.
The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) is an independent international institution created jointly by the United Nations and the government of Guatemala on 12 December 2006 to support the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the National Civil Police and other Guatemalan institutions in the country in their investigation and prosecution of complex cases.