Guatemala sentences 2 ex-military officials for using women as sex slaves

Former army officer Steelmer Francisco Reyes Giron, left, and Heriberto Valdez Asij, a former military commissioner, were sentenced to 120 years and 240 years in prison, respectively,  for keeping indigenous women as sex slaves during Guatemala's civil war.

Story highlights

  • They were also accused of carrying out "forced disappearances"
  • The women said they were held against their will at a military base

(CNN)Guatemala sentenced two former military officials to over 100 years in prison each for using women as sex slaves during the civil war.

Lt. Col. Esteelmen Francisco Reyes received 120 years and military commissioner Heriberto Valdéz Asij got 240 years during sentencing Friday, state media reported.
    They were accused of carrying out "forced disappearances" and turning 15 indigenous women into their sexual slaves during the 1980s, when Guatemala was mired in a bloody civil war.
    "These historic convictions send the unequivocal message that sexual violence is a serious crime and that no matter how much time passes, it will be punished," said Erika Guevara-Rosas of Amnesty International. "It is a great victory for the 11 women who embarked on a 30-year-long battle for justice."
    State media said 15 women made the accusations while Amnesty International said 11.
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    The indigenous women say Guatemala's military treated them as sexual and domestic slaves during the Central American country's long civil war.
    The unidentified women said they were held against their will at a military base in eastern Guatemala in 1982 and 1983.
    At the time, Guatemala was in the midst of a bloody civil war that started in 1960 and didn't end until 1996 with the signing of peace accords. Indigenous communities were caught in the middle as Guatemala fought leftist rebel groups.
    The two former military officers were accused of murder, rape, sexual abuse, domestic servitude and kidnapping, according to the Guatemalan attorney general's office.
    The victims, now in their 70s and 80s, have waited for justice for more than three decades. They speak no Spanish and communicate in a Mayan language known as Q'eqchi.