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Legal wrangle Ex-Guatemala police chief trial delayed

Erwin Sperisen (centre, bearded) talks to journalists, flanked by his lawyers


The retrial of the former head of Guatemala’s police force, Erwin Sperisen, on charges of multiple murder, has been delayed several months as his legal team moves to eject a judge form the hearing.

Sperisen, a dual Swiss-Guatemalan citizen, had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 2014 after being found guilty of ordering the deaths of 10 prison inmates between 2005-2006 in the central American country. But earlier this year Swiss judges ordered a retrial because his defence was compromised by irregularities in the original hearing.

The new trial had been scheduled for November 28, but it has now been put back to April to give time to settle the legal wrangle. Sperisen’s lawyers argue that the president of the Genevan appeal court is biased against their client.

Sperisen is currently under house arrest in Switzerland. His lawyers have announced that they intend to sue the Genevan authorities for CHF1 million in damages, calling his original trial “one of the biggest miscarriages of justice in the annals of Switzerland”.

Sperisen 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.

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