Guatemala Court Finds Both Sepur Zarco Defendants Guilty

A court in Guatemala has found two former senior military officers guilty of crimes against humanity in a case involving murder, sexual slavery and other atrocities committed at the Sepur Zarco army base in the east of the country in 1982 and 1983.

Esteelmer Reyes Girón, the former base commander, was given prison sentences totaling 120 years. Heriberto Valdez Asij, the former regional military commissioner, was given sentences totaling 240 years. The trial before High Risk Court A in Guatemala City lasted three-and-half weeks.

In delivering the judgment to a crowded courtroom on Friday, February 26,  presiding judge Yassmin Barrios said that rape had been deliberately used at Sepur Zarco as a weapon aimed at destroying the local indigenous Maya Q’eqchi’ community.

The Sepur Zarco trial is the first known example of the prosecution in a national court of the crime of sexual slavery during armed conflict as a violation of international humanitarian law.