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Erwin Sperisen Former police chief released ahead of retrial

Erwin Sperisen as seen in a court drawing from 2014

(Keystone)

Erwin Sperisen, the former head of Guatemala’s national police, who has dual Swiss-Guatemalan citizenship, has been released from prison ahead of his November trial.

On Friday, the Swiss Federal Court in Lausanne accepted the appeal made by Sperisen’s legal team against a ruling by a Geneva court. Later in the evening the Geneva court's criminal and review chamber ordered his release on the basis of the Federal Court's decision. However, he only left prison on Monday as certain administrative formalities had to be completed. 

Sperisen, who was found guilty of being involved in the murder of ten Guatemalan prisoners, will have to wear an electronic bracelet and will be under house arrest in Geneva until his retrial in November.

Unusual case

Sperisen was found guilty of being involved in the murder of ten of Guatemalan prisoners. He was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Geneva court in 2014. The crimes for which he had been on trial occurred between 2005-2006. 

However, the ex-police chief is due to be retried on November 28 this year, after the supreme court criticised how the case was handled by the Geneva prosecutors. He was first arrested in Geneva in 2012, having moved there in 2007. Unable to be extradited, Sperisen was duly tried as a Swiss citizen, in a rare case of Swiss justice trying a defendant for crimes committed in another country.

swissinfo.ch and agencies/ilj

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