Judge Orders Trial of Ex-Kaibil for his role in Dos Erres Massacre

Judge Claudette Domínguez ruled last Thursday that there is sufficient evidence to send former special forces soldier Gilberto Jordán to trial for his alleged role in the 1982 Dos Erres massacre.  Jordán, 64, is charged with charges of crimes against humanity for his direct participation in the murder of 162 men, women, and children. He also faces charges of aggravated sexual assault.

The United States deported Jordán to Guatemala in March after he served ten years in prison for immigration fraud and for lying on immigration forms about his role in the Dos Erres massacre. He admitted to U.S. authorities that he had been the first to throw a child into the community well, setting off the gruesome killing spree at Las Dos Erres.

Judge Domínguez ruled to accept the Guatemalan Association of Families of the Detained-Disappeared (FAMDEGUA) as co-plaintiff (querellante adhesivo) in the case. She noted that FAMDEGUA has accompanied the survivors and relatives of the victims since 1994, when the first exhumations were conducted in the case.

She also ruled that given the evidence that Jordán was an active-duty member of the Guatemalan Army at the time of the events, the Prosecutor General’s Office (PGN) will continue as an accused third party in the case. The PGN is charged with representing the interests of the Guatemalan state in judicial proceedings, rather than individuals who are or were at one time government functionaries.

The case will be heard by High Risk Tribunal “A” which is chaired by Judge Jassmín Barrios.

Jordán’s Superior Officer May be the Next Deportee to Face Justice in Guatemala

This will be the fourth trial in the Dos Erres massacre case. Guatemalan courts have convicted six men—five ex-Kaibil soldiers and one army official—for their responsibility in the Dos Erres massacre. Several alleged perpetrators remain at large. Two alleged perpetrators are currently in custody in the United States.

One of them is Jorge Vinicio Sosa Orantes, a military officer and member of the Kaibil Special Forces. For years, Sosa Orantes had been living undetected in the United States. When he realized that U.S. officials were investigating him for immigration fraud, he fled to Mexico and then Canada. In 2011, he was detained in Canada and extradited to the United States, where he was convicted in 2013 for lying on immigration forms about his role in the Dos Erres massacre. While he was serving his sentence, Jordán testified against Sosa Orantes, identifying him as the official who gave the order to Kaibil soldiers to “kill all the people” at Las Dos Erres. 

Sosa’s 10-year sentence culminates in 2021 and it’s expected that he will be deported to Guatemala in the coming months.

Jo-Marie Burt is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Latin American Studies at George Mason University. She is also a Senior Fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). Paulo Estrada is a human rights activist, archaeology student at San Carlos University, and civil party in the Military Diary case.