Guatemala charges ex-police in 1980 embassy fire

AP News
Posted: Apr 30, 2012 9:22 PM
Guatemala charges ex-police in 1980 embassy fire

A Guatemalan judge has ordered a former national police official to stand trial in the deaths of 37 people killed by a fire at the Spanish Embassy in Guatemala in 1980.

Indian demonstrators had taken over the embassy to call attention to rights abuses during Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war. Security forces attacked and set fire to the embassy.

The charges filed Monday claim former police official Pedro Garcia Arredondo refused requests by the Spanish ambassador to withdraw police from the embassy and allow firefighters in to extinguish the blaze.

Judge Jose Eduardo Cojulum says Garcia Arredondo faces up to 50 years in prison on each homicide count if found guilty.

Among those killed in the fire was the father of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu.