Sperisen case: Federal Tribunal confirms extrajudiciary executions
Geneva, 12 July 2017. Today, the Federal Tribunal (FT) referred the case to Genevan tribunals without ruling on the guilt of the former Head of the Guatemalan police. But the judges in Lausanne have confirmed several key points of the case.
In today’s judgment, the FT has requested the hearing of several witnesses; the failure to do so in the first place may have violated the right of the accused to a fair trial. The latter will be re-judged by the Genevan authorities, who will hear the witnesses and render a new judgment on that base.
But the denouncing NGOs (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture, the Geneva Community for Trade union action, the World organization against torture and TRIAL International) highlight that this decision does not in any way exonerate M. Sperisen.
In fact, the Federal Tribunal has rejected the vast majority of his complaints, in particular on key aspects of the accusation. The judges have thus confirmed that the prisoners in the Pavon detention center were not killed in an armed fight. The existence of a list of targeted has also been accepted, as has the presence of elite killing squad members on the crime scene. The FT also accepted the crucial clue that no inquiry had followed the death of the prisoners.
“These elements prove that the extrajudicial executions of the victims were planned in advance, which the accused has always firmly denied”, the NGOs explain. “For the family of the victims, this recognition is central.”
Long months of waiting ahead of the victims
In May 2015, Erwin Sperisen was condemned to life imprisonment by the Criminal Chamber of the Court of Justice in Geneva, for the murder of ten prisoners in Guatemala. His lawyers had filed an appeal before the Federal Tribunal.
“It is crucial that all trials uphold the rights of the accused”, day the NGOs. “But for victims, this means long months of waiting ahead. In spite of this new chapter in the proceedings, they remain hopeful and know that the fight against impunity is fought on the long run”.