Pedro Pimentel Rios, a former member of an elite Guatemalan military force dubbed the "killing machine," will have to live to be 6,114-years-old if he wants to survive the 6,060-year prison sentence he was handed on Monday for his role as in the 1982 Guatemalan Dos Erres massacre. Sure that number is eye-catching, and at the same time it brings up the argument of futility versus symbolism (are the extra 6,000 years going to matter to the 54-year-old?). But the AP reports, the maximum time a convict can spend in prison in Guatemala is 50 years, so Rios' huge sentence is meant to make a point. The December 1982 massacre in Las Dos Erres village, where men, women and children were systematically killed by government special forces, is, as the Global Post mentions, widely considered one of the darkest chapters of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war that claimed some 200,000 lives before officially ending in 1996. The AP reports, "Soldiers bludgeoned villagers with a sledgehammer, threw them down a well, and raped women and girls before killing them, according to court papers filed in a case brought by U.S. prosecutors..."
The three-judge panel sentenced him to 30 years for each of the 201 people killed and added 30 years for "crimes against humanity." The Guardian reports that Rios is actually the fifth member of the elite military force known as the Kaibiles to receive a sentence of 6,060 years or more. According to The Global Post, "Kaibiles commanders used to pledge that 'The Kaibil is a killing machine.'"
Rios, the AP notes was extradited from the United States last July, where, according to OC Weekly, he was working as a maintenance worker in a sweater factory before being detained by immigration. The Global Post notes, witnesses said Rios raped and murdered young girls during the massacre and then became an instructor at the U.S. Army's infamous School of the Americas in Panama, the alma mater of Manuel Noriega and El Salvadorean death squad leader, Roberto D'Aubuisson.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.