Swiss-Guatemalan ex-police chief sentenced to 15 years in prison

The dual national received his Swiss citizenship through his father. He is pictured at the Geneva courthouse on Friday morning. Keystone

Erwin Sperisen, the former head of Guatemala’s police force, has been sentenced by Geneva's cantonal court to 15 years in prison for his "complicity" in the killing of seven inmates in 2006.

This content was published on April 27, 2018 - 13:30

The verdict was handed down on Friday, and judges ordered that Sperisen will have to serve up to ten years in jail, minus the five years he spent in pre-trial detention.

He will remain under house arrest for the time being. His lawyer said that Sperisen would be appealing the verdict. 

Sperisen’s re-trial began two weeks ago, after an appeal was partially upheld by the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne last July.

According to the judges, his fault in the deaths is "extremely serious", although there are still some "grey areas" regarding how the plan to commit the crimes came about.

A dual Swiss-Guatemalan citizen, Sperisen was accused of the extrajudicial killing of several prisoners between 2005 and 2006, while he was head of the central American country’s police force.

+ Re-trial of former Guatemala police chief opens

+ Former police chief’s murder appeal partially upheld

He was originally sentenced to life in prison by a Geneva court in 2014 for the crimes.

The legal proceedings have taken place in Switzerland because that is where Sperisen has lived since 2007, and the country does not extradite its citizens. The case is a rare example of Swiss justice trying a defendant for crimes committed in another country.

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