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Guatemalan Congress Begins Approval of Death Penalty Law

Congreso de Guatemala inicia aprobación de ley para aplicar pena de muerte, EFE

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The Congress of Guatemala began this Wednesday with the approval of initiative 6189 to reinstate the recourse of grace or pardon of the death penalty.

The legal vacuum that does not allow the application of capital punishment dates back to 2000 when then President Alfonso Portillo repealed the decree, eliminating the figure of presidential pardon.

The deputies seek to reinstate the recourse of grace, for which reason on Wednesday, March 22 the bill, promoted by pro-government and allied deputies, advanced in the first reading of the three that it needs to become a decree.

Congressman Álvaro Arzú recently explained that the approval of this initiative is only the first step, since an amendment to the Penal Code is needed to include the crimes that were in force prior to the signing of the Pact of San José.

“This is only 50 percent of what needs to be done. A sentence of the CC left without effect all the articles of the Penal Code (…) in our legislation there is no crime to which the death penalty can be applied. The recourse of grace is not enough (…) One way is to denounce the Pact of San José and the other way is to approve an initiative that restores textually the crimes in the Penal Code, as they were written before the entry into force of the Pact of San José”, he explained.

Arzú recalled that there is already a proposed law to reestablish the crimes of patricide, murder, kidnapping or abduction, and assassination. Initiative 5714 was presented in 2021 and to date does not have a favorable opinion, so he asked that the issue be taken up again.

“With that legislation plus the one we are discussing, the death penalty can be applied in our country,” he assured.

For Manuel Conde, the application of the death penalty can be a deterrent, since there have been reprehensible episodes such as rapes and hired killings.

“We would be wrong to turn our backs on the people (…) I not only support the initiative but I am willing to accompany this process. Capital punishment is constitutional and therefore it is necessary to complete the processes and create the legal figures that allow its application”, he declared.

Last time Guatemala applied the death penalty

On June 28, 2000, capital punishment was applied for the last time in the country. An intravenous injection ended the lives of Tomás Cerrate and Amílcar Cetino, members of one of the most dangerous kidnapping gangs in Guatemala, known as Los Pasaco.

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The event was broadcast on television. Four years earlier, the last shooting of two rapists identified as Pedro Castillo Mendoza, 39, and Roberto Girón, 49, who were shot after being found guilty of kidnapping 4-year-old Sonia Marisol Álvarez García in Guanagazapa, Escuintla, took place.

According to the investigation, the minor was kidnapped for several days, during which time she was raped.

This article is part of an agreement between El American and República.