Guatemala arrests ex-police chief in war crime probe

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2011 3:14 PM
Guatemala arrests ex-police chief in war crime probe

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - Guatemalan security forces on Thursday arrested a former national police chief wanted in the disappearance of a student union leader in 1984 during the country's civil war.

The arrest of Hector Bol de la Cruz, 70, at his home in Jutiapa, southwest of the capital, is the latest step in a government crackdown on officials accused of war crimes during the conflict that racked Guatemala between 1960 and 1996.

Bol de la Cruz, who was chief of police between 1983 and 1985, is accused of orchestrating the kidnapping and forced disappearance of Fernando Garcia, who was last seen when officers detained him as he left home in the capital on February 18, 1984.

Last October a court in Guatemala sentenced two of Bol de la Cruz's former agents to 40 years in prison for their role in the disappearance of Garcia, who many believe was murdered.

The center-left administration of President Alvaro Colom has been under pressure to bring war criminals to justice in Guatemala, one of the poorest countries in Latin America.

Pitting a string of right-wing governments against leftist insurgents, the civil war led to nearly a quarter of a million deaths, and many thousands of people are still missing.

(Reporting by Mike McDonald; Editing by Bill Trott)