GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan court Wednesday sentenced a former soldier to 5,160 years in prison for the massacre of 171 people in what is considered one of the worst atrocities in that country’s 36-year-long civil war.
Prosecutors said Santos Lopez participated in the 1982 mass killings of nearly all of the men, women and children in the farming village of Dos Erres.
Lopez was accused of being part of the elite Special Patrol of Kaibiles that was sent to Dos Erres to find members of a guerrilla group that had ambushed a military convoy.
When the patrol failed to find the guerrillas or guns, they pulled villagers from their homes and raped many of the young girls, according to prosecutors. To cover up the rapes, they killed nearly everyone living there.
The massacre was carried out during the regime of former Guatemalan military dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who died in April facing charges of genocide for acts during one of the bloodiest phases of the Cold War-era conflict that lasted from 1960 until 1996.