Former police chief, Sperisen, appeals guilty verdict

The guilty verdict relates to crimes committed in 2006 Keystone

Erwin Sperisen, the former head of Guatemala’s national police, is to appeal a Geneva court’s verdict that he was guilty of involvement in the murder of six Guatemalan prisoners and of killing another between 2005 and 2006.

This content was published on June 11, 2014 - 21:14 and agencies

Sperisen was handed a life sentence by the court at the beginning of June. In a statement released on Wednesday, his lawyers described the verdict as “arbitrary” and said it violated the rights of the defence.

They argued that a majority of the testimony upon which the verdict was based, was unreliable, as the witnesses were criminals from Guatemala.

The legal team claims that witnesses had lied, but had been neither questioned by the court, nor by the defence, which constituted a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Sperisen's crimes were committed in 2006 when seven detainees were executed during the Guatemalan security forces’ attempts to regain control of the Pavon prison, which had been taken over by inmates.

The defence claimed that the prisoners were killed during clashes with the police, but a United Nations commission found they were planned extrajudicial killings.

Sperisen has dual Swiss-Guatemalan citizenship and was arrested in 2012 while living in Geneva. He stood trial in the Swiss city as Switzerland does not extradite its citizens.

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