Pedro Pimentel Rios, a former member of an elite Guatemalan military force called Kaibiles was extradited from the United States to Guatemala last year after twenty years of exile in which he spent years working in a southern California sweater factor, Huffington Post reported.
Pimentel was the fifth soldier to be sentenced with the same penalty in the Central American nation for his role in the massacre in Las Dos Erres, a small village in the municipality of La Libertad, in the northern Petén department of Guatemala at the height of the country’s brutal civil war. Four other soldiers were also sentenced August last year.
Reuters reported that the length of the sentence is largely symbolic because Guatemala’s laws only allow inmates to serve a maximum of 50 years. He is given 30 years of prison sentence for each victim killed in the attack and additional 30 more years for crimes against humanity.
A former soldier who took part in the massacre testified that Pimentel was among a group of some 20 soldiers ordered to the village in December 1982 to search for missing weapons. The soldiers then blindfolded, strangled and bludgeoned villagers and a newborn child to death with a sledgehammer before dumping them down a 15-meter (49-foot)-deep well, Reuters reported.
Pimentel denied being involved in the massacre having his alibi that he left the area in November 1982 to prepare enrollment papers for the School of the Americas in Panama but it was not accepted by the court.
The ruling comes as Guatemala seeks to clean up atrocities from the bloody 1960-1996 internal conflict in which nearly a quarter of a million people died or went missing.
The former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Mont is also facing trial the bloodiest period of the country’s history while he is the president from 1982-1983. Mont was also denied amnesty and he is now facing charges of genocide and crimes against humanity for ordering the killing of 1,700 innocent Mayan tribes when his government is battling leftist insurgents.