TEGUCIGALPA – The Honduran government said it would not grant asylum to former Guatemalan prison service director Alejandro Giammattei, who has been taking refuge at the Honduran Embassy in Guatemala City for a week.
“It was decided to deny that request” because Giammattei “has an arrest warrant for the crimes of extrajudicial executions and criminal conspiracy” issued by a judicial authority, Honduran Foreign Ministry adviser Mario Fortin said.
The decision by the Honduran government had been revealed on Monday by Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom, who said that his Honduran counterpart, Porfirio Lobo, told him about it in Colombia, where the two leaders had traveled last weekend for the inauguration of that country’s new president, Juan Manuel Santos.
Honduras can grant asylum to Giammattei, but “it is not obligated to authorize it, nor to state why it is denying it,” much less when “there are penal crimes ... that are being processed,” Fortin said.
Giammattei, upon learning of the Honduran decision, “expressed his desire to abandon” the embassy, Fortin said.
A Guatemalan court issued international arrest warrants for three former senior officials in connection with at least 10 extrajudicial executions, judicial officials said Wednesday.
Erstwhile Interior Minister Carlos Vielman, national police chief Erwin Sperisen and deputy director of investigations Javier Figueroa all served in the 2004-2008 administration of conservative President Oscar Berger.
All three are believed to be living outside the country.
The U.N.-sponsored International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, known as Cicig, alleges they were part of a conspiracy to summarily kill prison inmates.
The current case involves the killings of at least 10 inmates in 2005-2006.
Figueroa, who left Guatemala in March 2007, is reported by the capital press to be living in Austria, while Sperisen departed in April 2008 to settle in Sweden.
Vielman resides in Spain.
Cicig said Tuesday that Figueroa, Sperisen, Vielman and Giammattei were part of a criminal structure created within the interior ministry and national police during the first year of the Berger administration.
“This structure,” according to Cicig, engaged in “offenses of murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, extortion and theft of drugs, among others.”
Six alleged members of the conspiracy were arrested Monday for the deaths of seven inmates in 2006 at the Pavon prison farm.
Former National Civilian Police, or PNC, criminal investigations division chief Victor Soto, implicated in the extrajudicial executions of seven inmates, turned himself in on Wednesday.
Soto turned himself in “voluntarily” because there was an arrest warrant out for him, prosecutors said. EFE