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Guatemalan war criminal sentenced to 5,160 years in prison, decades after massacre

Santos Lopez Alonzo, 66, a former soldier during the Guatemalan civil war has been tried and sentenced to 5,160 years in prison, more than three decades after the crimes he is accused of took place.

The Guatemalan civil war came to an end on 2nd December 1996 after 36-years of a bloody conflict, with high civilian casualties, several counts of alleged human rights abuses and genocide.  The conflict was between the Guatemalan government, which was receiving support from the US government against left-wing indigenous Mayan guerrillas, with estimates of up to 200,000 casualties during the conflict.

Alonzo is accused of being a combatant in the US trained elite special forces group named ‘Kaibiles’ in the Guatemalan military during the war. He allegedly partook in a large civilian massacre in the village of Dos Erres in 1982, which saw over 200 fatal casualties – 171 of which have been attributed to Alonzo himself. The civilians in the village, which was sympathetic to the Mayan insurgency, are reported to have been unarmed and no combatants present.

Alonzo received a sentencing of 30 years for crimes against humanity and further 30 years for each of the 171 victims that he allegedly was involved in the murder of, accumulating a total sentencing of 5,160 years.

In 2011, Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom apologised for the 1982 Doss Erress massacre, stating that "in the name of the state, as your president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces, I officially apologise to the victims and their families".

See more from the New York Times here, Sky News here and the BBC here.