GUATEMALA CITY – Security forces, backed by the U.N.-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, or CICIG, arrested a soldier and five civilians as suspects in the April 2008 murder of a consultant to that country’s Interior Ministry.
“(Thursday’s) arrests occurred in the capital, (the Caribbean province of) Izabal and (the northeastern province of) Progreso ... by an elite unit of the National Civil Police, (members of) the Attorney General’s Office and the CICIG,” an AG office spokesman told Efe.
The CICIG was established in Guatemala in 2008 to help the violence-ridden country’s criminal justice system more effectively battle organized crime and impunity.
The six detainees are suspected in the April 7, 2008, killing of Venezuelan Victor Rivera, an ex-consultant to the Interior Ministry on security and kidnappings.
Three of the suspects were identified as active duty Lt. Col. Cruz Magdaleno Reyes, 51; Marneli Sosa, 31; and Israel Betancourth, 35, all of them Guatemalan, while the other three were not identified.
“These people are accused of obstruction of justice, criminal conspiracy and conspiracy to murder” and they were arrested as part of an investigation into the killing being carried out by the AG office and the CICIG, the spokesman said.
Last Thursday, Interpol, acting at the request of Guatemalan authorities, arrested Guatemalan illegal immigrant Juan Vasquez in the U.S. state of Tennessee for allegedly carrying out the murder.
Guatemalan authorities expect Vasquez to be deported in the coming days and plan to initiate criminal proceedings against him once he arrives.
Also being prosecuted for Rivera’s murder is former prosecutor Alvaro Matus, accused of obstructing the investigation. Matus is currently free on bond.
Rivera, who led the National Civil Police’s anti-kidnapping unit for more than 13 years before working as a consultant, was shot and killed in a residential area on Guatemala City’s south side.
Rivera was killed a week after President Alvaro Colom had removed him from his post.
Authorities said organized criminal elements had plotted the murder as an act of revenge for the cases that Rivera had investigated, including a high-profile probe into the murders of three Salvadoran lawmakers. EFE