On Thursday, June 6th, a Guatemala City Court held the latest preliminary hearing against 6 former Civil Patrollers accused of committing sexual violence in Rabinal during the Internal Armed Conflict. The case has been brought forward by 36 Achi survivors of sexual violence committed from 1981 to 1985.

Thursday’s hearing saw the defense present evidence in favour of their clients, which is essentially an opportunity to poke holes in the Public Prosecutor’s arguments. However, the hearing started once again with the representative of the Guatemalan State appealing to be removed as accused in the case, claiming the ex-Civil Patrols were not affiliated with the State or the Ministry of Defense. In response the lawyers for the prosecution stated there is a clear chain of command from the Guatemalan army to the Civil Patrols, which were created by the Department of Defense. The Civil Patrols were dissolved with the signing of the Peace Accords by the Guatemalan State, and members were financially compensated by the state for their service as Civil Patrols. Judge Claudia Dominguez stated that she will make a decision on the issue in the following hearing.

The next portion of the hearing was the presentation of evidence by lawyers of the accused. Five of the six have a public defender, and one has a private attorney. The Public Defender argued that the only evidence presented by the prosecution is declarations from the survivors, stating there is a lack of physical evidence these crimes occurred.

The private lawyer, in his opportunity to speak, stated there is no evidence against his client and that he was not a member of the Civil Patrols at the time.

The hearing ended shortly after it had begun, with the judge setting the following hearing for June 21 to decide if the case will go to trial.

We invite you to continue to continue to send us messages of solidarity for these 36 brave women! You’ll find more info on how to take action here.