Erwin Sperisen, the former head of Guatemala’s police, plans to seek more than CHF1 million ($1.02 million) in damages from the Genevan authorities, according to his lawyers. Sperisen faces a re-trial in Switzerland on murder charges later this month.
The Swiss-Guatemalan dual citizen was jailed for life in 2014 for involvement in the deaths of ten prison inmates in Guatemala between 2005-2006. But earlier this year judges ordered a retrial because his defence was compromised by irregularities in the original hearing.
“We will be seeking damages of more than a million francs from canton Geneva,” one of his lawyers told the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. He called the original trial “one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in the annals of Switzerland”.
Sperisen had moved to Switzerland after resigning from the police force in 2007. Nicknamed The Viking for his red hair, he inherited his Swiss citizenship from his father. He was tried in Geneva for alleged crimes committed in Guatemala as Switzerland does not extradite its citizens.
He is said to have twice ordered the killing of inmates during prison disturbances in Guatemala. A United Nations inquiry found that the killing of the seven prisoners in the so-called “Gavilán” operation in 2006 were not the result of clashes between prisoners and police, but rather planned extrajudicial murders.
Sperisen has been released from prison but remains in Switzerland under house arrest until the conclusion of his re-trial.