Former Guatemalan Soldier Receives 6,060 Year Sentence for Massacre

Pedro Pimentel Rios, 55, was a former soldier part of a special unit of the Guatemalan army known as the Kaibiles.  During Guatemala’s brutal 36-year civil conflict, the Kaibiles stormed Dos Erres, a village where they suspected residents were supporting or sheltering left-wing guerrillas. They systematically killed hundreds of men, women, and children by shooting or bludgeoning them to death and throwing their bodies down a well over a span of three days.  Whole villages of indigenous Mayans were massacred in the government’s efforts to defeat left-wing rebels during the civil war.

Pimental had actually lived in California for many years before being arrested in 2010 and extradited to Guatemala in 2011.  He has denied any involvement in the massacre, but is the fifth former soldier to be convicted for the killings in 1982.  He was sentenced to 30 years for each of the 201 deaths in the massacre, and another 30 years for crimes against humanity — totaling 6,060 years in prison.  The symbolic nature of the sentence reflects recent movements to try those implicated in civil war atrocities and ends the victims’ families long search for justice.

Do you agree with the sentence?  Does such a sentence reflect the repugnance of the crime, and bring justice to victims?  Or is a lifetime sentence sufficient?

3 comments

  1. I do agree with the sentence. Rios was ultimately responsible for over two hundred deaths and he should be punished for each and every one. The victims’ families need to feel that their family members death is recognized and accounted for in the eyes of the law. I think that he is deserving of a thirty-year sentence for each and every person that he killed, and anything short of that would be an injustice. Although the sentence may seem a little over the top because no person can live that long, I think it shows the families that the loss that they suffered has been acknowledged. I do not feel that a lifetime sentence would be sufficient because I think that the 6,060 year sentence has more of an impact on how society views the laws treatment of mass murder. To give this man the same punishment as someone who killed two or three people does not seem to sit right with me, so I think the sentence he got was justified.

  2. The massacre is a tragic war crime. That being the case, the sentence is warranted. In the United States, a life sentence is warranted where a person is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of acting maliciously in the killing of another person. In the Guatemalan massacre, 201 lives were taken. 6,060 years in prison – commensurate with a life sentence – is therefore warranted.

    In addition, unlike the killing of just one person by another, the killings in Guatemala were committed on a large-scale and by a government official operating in his capacity as such. Thus – aside from the fact that the killings constituted the crime of murder – the Guatemalan massacre was a war crime. Taking this additional factor into consideration, the harsh penalty was warranted.

  3. I don’t disagree with the sentence. Yes, they could have sentenced Rios to life in prison, by I think the 6,060 year sentence is much more symbolic for a country trying to afford justice to the families of those who were killed as a result of Rios’ actions. By giving him 6,060 years in prison, each and every one of his victims has been recognized and the families of those victims have received some closure. I think it’s closure that many may not have had if Rios had simply been sentenced to life in prison for killing 201 people.

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