By Samuel Opio
A Guatemalan court has sentenced a former soldier to 5,130 years in prison for a massacre during one of the worst atrocities of the Central American nation’s civil war.
The court on Wednesday sentenced Santos Lopez to 30 years for each of the 171 killings, or 5,130 years in total. He received an additional 30 years in jail linked to the killing of a surviving child, but the sentences are symbolic because Guatemala‘s maximum prison term is 50 years.
Santos Lopez Alonzo is accused of belonging to an elite squad known as the “Kaibiles”, which carried out the killings on December 7, 1982, in the northern town of Dos Erres. He was arrested in the US and deported in 2016.
According to a UN truth commission, about 200,000 people were killed and another 45,000 disappeared during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war. Most were killed by the army, though some were killed by leftist guerrillas.
Lopez is not the first member of the unit to have been convicted over the massacre: a handful of others have received prison sentences of more than 6,000 years.
Some others are in US jails for immigration-related offences and many others are believed to be living free in the US.