(AFP) – Jan 16, 2008
MADRID (AFP) — A Spanish judge probing genocide over 36 years of civil war that left some 200,000 people dead or "disappeared" in Guatemala shelved his quest Wednesday, a court official told AFP.
Santiago Pedraz was handed the dossier after an October 2005 Spanish constitutional court decision authorising the country to investigate crimes against humanity wherever they took place.
But, fresh from Alvaro Colom being sworn in as Guatemala's new president on Monday, Pedraz has admitted total frustration in his epic inquiry following "the refusal of the Guatemalan authorities to cooperate".
The court source said Pedraz had made repeated attempts to secure information through "letters rogatory", which are legal letters of request used where specific treaties are not in force.
"Not one of them received a reply," he added.
While the judge has given up on that line of inquiry, he has nevertheless refused to rule out future developments in the case, should "victims or witnesses" come forward.
To that end, he has asked media in seven countries (Guatemala, Mexico, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and the United States) to publicise his search for information.
Arrest warrants for seven suspects will also remain in force, the court specified.
"Guatemala is committing, as a state, a violation of its obligation, fulfilled by all civilised countries, to signal and punish genocidal acts," it added.
Once part of the Mayan empire, Guatemala was ruled by Spain from 1524 until its independence in 1821.
In 1996, a peace accord ended a generation of fighting between government troops, leftist rebels and right-wing vigilante groups.
Many victims of the civil war, the majority of whom died or disappeared during the military regimes from 1978 to 1986, were indigenous people.
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