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  • Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart (C) and his deputy ministers Kamilo Rivera (L) and Manuel Castellanos (R) after being sworn in. Guatemala City, Guatemala. Jan. 26, 2018.

    Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart (C) and his deputy ministers Kamilo Rivera (L) and Manuel Castellanos (R) after being sworn in. Guatemala City, Guatemala. Jan. 26, 2018. | Photo: EFE

Published 9 November 2018
Opinion

Deputy Interior Minister Kamilo Rivera signed his resignation letter and fled the country hours before the police searched his house.

Guatemala’s Public Ministry (MP) revealed that a former deputy interior minister, Kamilo Rivera, probably fled the country to avoid his arrest and trial accused of torture and extrajudicial killings.

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During a hearing Friday over a case known as ‘El Infiernito’ (The Little Hell), the MP stated that Rivera left his home at 4 a.m. along with his security staff on Oct. 29, while he still held his position as minister. He later left his team at the ministry, went to a restaurant where he changed cars and left the country.

The MP only received his resignation letter, already approved by President Jimmy Morales, three days after his absence. The letter, citing health issues as the reason for his resignation, was signed the same day he fled and his house was searched by the police.

“He resigned his position as deputy minister, suggesting he was probably aware of the arrest order against him,” said Judge Claudette Dominguez, who is in charge of the case.

By petition of the MP, Dominguez declared Rivera in absentia, allowing the case to proceed.

Lawyer Camilo de Jesus Rivera Perez stepped into the hearing and asked to be included in the case as the legal representative of Kamilo Rivera, but the judge rejected his petition as the accused never made his intention to have a representative clear.

The Interior Minister Enrique Degenhart declared there was no additional information about Rivera’s whereabouts, and Interpol has already issued a red alert on him.

Another four former high-level security officials were arrested over the same case, accused by the MP and the International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) of participating in an extrajudicial structure that carried out executions and torture between 2004 and 2007, when Rivera was deputy interior minister.

Prosecutors claim Rivera and the other ministries also carried out what is known as ‘Plan Gavilan’ to execute seven inmates that escaped from the ‘El Infiernito’ penitentiary in Escuintla in 2005.

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