Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Erwin Sperisen Re-trial of former Guatemala police chief opens

Former head of Guatemala's national police Erwin Sperisen, with his lawyers-

Nicknamed “The Viking” for his red hair, Sperisen inherited his Swiss citizenship from his father.


The former head of Guatemala’s national police force, Erwin Sperisen, faces re-trial on Monday in Geneva for his alleged involvement in killing ten prisoners.

The case will be retried by the Geneva cantonal court after the Swiss Federal Court partially upheld an appeal by Sperisen, a Swiss-Guatemalan dual national, last July.

Sperisen was first found guilty for his involvement in the killing of several prisoners in Guatemala in 2006, when he was head of the country’s police. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Geneva court in 2014. The verdict was upheld in 2015, when his first appeal against a lifetime jail sentence was denied.

The Federal Court, however, last year ordered a re-trial of the case, citing “arbitrary” and “incomplete proof” on the part of the Geneva court. Sperisen is seeking damages from the Genevan authorities, according to his lawyers.

+ Former police chief’s murder appeal partially upheld

Since the Federal Court’s decision, Sperisen has been placed under house arrest, after having spent five years in a Geneva prison. Nicknamed “The Viking” for his red hair, he inherited his Swiss citizenship from his father.

 He was tried in Switzerland because the country does not extradite its citizens. The case, which has been going on for several years in the Geneva courts, represents a rare instance of Swiss justice trying a defendant for crimes committed in another country.



Neuer Inhalt

Horizontal Line

SWI on Instagram

SWI on Instagram

SWI on Instagram

subscription form

Form for signing up for free newsletter.

Sign up for our free newsletters and get the top stories delivered to your inbox.

Click here to see more newsletters