Manuel Benedicto Lucas Garcia and others
Former Guatemalan officials sent to trial in Belgium for killings and enforced disappearance of Belgian missionaries in the 1980s
Type of jurisdiction
Manuel Benedicto Lucas García, former head of the armed forces (imprisoned in Guatemala); Manuel Antonio Callejas y Callejas, former head of armed forces intelligence (imprisoned in Guatemala); Pedro García Arredondo, former head of police intelligence; Ángel Aníbal Guevara Rodríguez, former defense minister; Donaldo Álvarez Ruiz, former interior minister
Country of residence of suspects
Guatemala and unknown
Enforced disappearance and murder as crimes against humanity
Investigation closed; awaiting trial
During the internal armed conflict in Guatemala (1960-1996), Belgian missionaries travelled to the southern coast to raise the awareness of workers about their exploitation and repression, and to support their organizational process to demand for their rights. Their social protest was violently repressed and left over 100 victims, including three Belgian citizens: Father Walter Voordeckers, killed on 12 May 1980; Ward Capiau, killed on 22 October 1981; and pastoral assistant Serge Berten, abducted on 19 January 1982 and never seen again.
The families of the victims filed a complaint in Belgium in 2001 and an investigation was opened.
DEVELOPMENTS IN 2022
On 14 June 2022, the Pretrial Criminal Chamber indicted the five former high-ranking Guatemalan government officials and ordered their arrest. An appeal was filed against this decision.
On 10 November 2022, the Pretrial Appeals Chamber confirmed the referral to a Belgian Criminal Court of the five former government officials for enforced disappearance and murder as crimes against humanity. Two of them are already imprisoned in Guatemala for other crimes, including enforced disappearances, committed during the armed conflict, and three remain at large. No date has yet been set for the opening of their trial, which would be held in absentia in the event that no defendant appeared.