miércoles, 5 de marzo de 2014

Guatemalan Supreme Court judge "kills himself"

César Barrientos Pellecer, a member of Guatemala's Supreme Court whose son was suspected of running a child prostitution ring, was believed to have killed himself in his car on 2 March, Prensa Libre reported. The daily observed on the arrest in 2013 of the magistrate's son César Barrientos Aguirre, but did not directly link this death to the scandal. Police declared that on the day of his death, Mr Barrientos drove with two people to a scheduled meeting in the district of San Francisco Zapotitlán near the town of Mazatengo. Once there, Police stated, he asked his companions to leave him in the car to make a call, and "quite a while later" shots were heard. He was found injured and taken to hospital in Mazatengo, where he died. The state coroner's office later confirmed the verdict of suicide, Prensa Libre reported on 5 March. The daily reported on 2 March that Mr Barrios quashed 53 death sentences given to convicts in 2012, for irregularities in their prosecutions.

Salvadorean Police chief says criminals' ceasefire may be ending

El Salvador's National Police chief observed on 3 March that an increase in murders in the country suggested that a gangs ceasefire that began in March 2012 may have ended, corroborating the suspicions of critics who intermitently denounced the ceasefire as either useless or a fraud. Government officials insisted that the ceasefire radically curbed the country's typical daily murder rates from 14 or 15 to seven a day or less; this rose to eight or nine a day in recent months. Police chief Rigoberto Pleités said that "taking into account that we had 30 homicides in just one day last weekend, we are led to conclude that this...ceasefire is exhausting itself." He said this was no certainty but "it is the perception we have, considering homicide results and indices...especially this month," El Salvador's El Mundo reported. Mr Pleités described any ceasefire as by nature a temporary halt in fighting, and suggested someone ask the Mara street gangs if it remained in place. Police cited the number of registered murders nationwide to be 501 from 1 January to 2 March, compared to 395 counted for those days in 2013, the website elsalvador.com reported on 3 March. La Prensa Gráfica newspaper gave the figure of 39 murders nationwide for the days 1-4 March. The victims included a politician of the conservative ARENA party whose candidate will run for the presidency on 9 March. The daily cited the country's Security Minister Ricardo Perdomo as saying on 4 March that increased killings in the country "speak for themselves," but he stressed the Government was not involved in the "private" ceasefire. "We are in the national pacification plan, and our objective is to deepen a transparent, social dialogue," Mr Perdomo said. On 3 March, President Mauricio Funes ordered 5,000 extra troops onto the streets, in response to increased gang violence, El Mundo reported.