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6,060 years in prison for former Guatemalan soldier

From Nelson Quinones, CNN
March 14, 2012 -- Updated 0032 GMT (0832 HKT)
Pedro Pimentel Rios says,
Pedro Pimentel Rios says, "Now a group of liars are graduating, and this trial is the exam."
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Survivor: "Justice is being done. ... It was an atrocity, what they did"
  • NEW: Pedro Pimentel Rios denies he was involved in the 1982 massacre at Dos Erres
  • He is the fifth former soldier convicted of the killings
  • Some 250 people were killed in the massacre

(CNN) -- A Guatemalan court convicted a former soldier for his role in a 1982 massacre and sentenced him to more than 6,000 years in prison.

Pedro Pimentel Rios is the fifth former soldier convicted of atrocities for the killing of 250 people in the village of Dos Erres during the country's civil war.

Pimentel was extradited from the United States to Guatemala in July 2011.

Relatives of the victims said justice was late, but it finally came.

"By the grace of God I feel quite happy, because really you can see that justice is being done. ... It was an atrocity, what they did," said Ramiro Osorio, whose parents and siblings were killed in the massacre.

Photos: Searching for the 'disappeared' in Guatemala

The evidence presented by the prosecution and the testimonies of the witnesses proved that Pimentel was involved in the killings, Judge Irma Valdez said Monday.

He was sentenced to 30 years each for 201 of the Dos Erres killings and another 30 on a charge of crimes against humanity.

The former soldier told family members of the victims in court that he was shocked by what happened, but denied involvement in the massacre and argued that Guatemalan authorities were influenced by foreign interests in the case.

"Now a group of liars are graduating, and this trial is the exam, and they passed it. Everything they said was believed," he said.

The judge ruled that Pimentel was part of a special unit known as the Kaibiles, who stormed the village, thinking that residents were hiding left-wing guerrillas.

Last year, four other former soldiers -- Carlos Antonio Carias Lopez, Reyes Collin Guali, Daniel Martinez Mendez and Manuel Pop Sun -- were also sentenced to more than 6,000 years in prison for the same massacre.

That trial was one of Guatemala's first against former soldiers who served in the dictatorship era.

More than 200,000 people were killed or "disappeared" between 1966 and 1996, the United Nations estimates. The organization documented 669 massacres in Guatemala during the nation's 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996.

Journalist Maria Renee Barillas and CNN's Camilo Egana contributed to this report.

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