UA 271/91 - Guatemala: apparent extrajudicial execution: Jose Miguel Merida Escobar
EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/35/91
UA 271/91 Apparent Extrajudicial Execution 8 August 1991
GUATEMALA: José Miguel MÉRIDA ESCOBAR
Amnesty International is concerned at the apparent extrajudicial execution
of 36-year-old José Miguel Mérida Escobar, head of the Homicide Section in
the Departamento de Investigaciones Criminológicas (DIC), Department of
Criminal Investigation, of the Guatemalan National Police. The killing is
believed to be linked to his role in investigating previous extrajudicial
executions and his reported allegations that military officials were involved
in a recent case.
According to the information received by Amnesty International, on the
morning of 5 August 1991, José Miguel Mérida Escobar had just left the
headquarters of the Guatemalan National Police in zone 1 of Guatemala City.
He was walking with his wife and his son along 14th street, between 5th and
4th Avenues and was approximately 70 metres from the National Police building
when a man approached him and shot him five times at point-blank range, killing
him. After the shooting the killer escaped with another person on a motorbike.
A passer-by was also wounded in the attack.
José Miguel Mérida Escobar was responsible for the investigation into
the killing, on 11 September 1990, of anthropologist Myrna Mack Chang in
circumstances suggesting the involvement of the security forces (see Guatemala:
Killing of Myrna Elizabeth Mack Chang, AI INDEX: AMR 34/55/90, September 1990).
Myrna Mack's work involved studies on development, people displaced by the
violence in Guatemala, and, at the time of her death, a study on the
socio-ecological impact of agricultural diversification in Chimaltenango.
José Miguel Mérida Escobar was the author of the police report in which it
was stated that the reasons of her killing were political. In June 1991, José
Miguel Mérida Escobar was reportedly summoned to give evidence in court about
the anthropologist's murder, and, on that occasion, he accused high-ranking
military officers of having participated directly or indirectly in the killing.
Two arrest warrants were issued on 28 June 1991, one of them against a member
of the security forces. José Mérida had also reportedly stated he would
collaborate fully with the court case if guarantees were given for him and
his family to leave the country safely. At the time of his killing, he was
reportedly preparing to leave Guatemala to go to the United States, where it
was hoped he would be able to testify before the Inter-American Commission
on Human Rights on the killing of Myrna Mack. Sources in Guatemala believe
that the killing of José Miguel Mérida Escobar is directly related to his role
in the investigations of the Myrna Mack case.
President Jorge Serrano Elías came to power in January 1991. During his
presidential campaign he had pledged to ensure protection of human rights.
However, Amnesty International remains seriously concerned at what appears
to be a deterioration in the human rights situation in the country in past
months, including an increased number of killings, death threats, torture and
"disappearances". As in past years, the choice of victim and the manner in
which the abuses have been carried out suggest the involvement of members of
the official security forces.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Telegrams/telexes/faxes/telephone calls/express and
Sections are particularly asked, where possible, to engage the cooperation
of police contacts/police groups in letter-writing on this action.
- expressing concern at the apparent extrajudicial execution of José Miguel
Mérida Escobar and at reports that his killing may have been a result of his
investigations into the involvement of security forces in the killing of Myrna
- urging that a full and impartial investigation be initiated immediately into
his killing and that the results be made public;
- urging that those found to be responsible be brought to justice.
page 2, UA 271/91...
S.E. Jorge Serrano Elías
Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente]
Presidente de la República de
Telegrams: Presidente Serrano
Telexes: 5331 CAPRES GU
Faxes: + 502 2 537472;
+ 502 2 519702
Tel No: + 502 2 21212;
+ 502 2 22266
Lic. Fernando Hurtado Prem
[Salutation: Señor Ministro]
Ministro de Gobernación
Oficina No. 8, Primer Nivel
Telegrams: Ministro Gobernacion
Faxes: + 502 2 518105
Tel No: + 502 2 21212, ext 500;
Gral. Luis Francisco Mendoza
[Salutation: Señor Ministro]
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa
Ministro Defensa Mendoza
Faxes: + 502 2 537472
Tel No:+ 502 2 21212, ext 2226
Señor Acisclo Valladares
Señor Procurador General]
Procurador General de la Nación
Procuraduría General de la Nación
18 Calle 10-36
Zona 1, Guatemala, Guatemala
Telegrams: Procurador General
Tel No: + 502 2 64697;
+ 502 2 313656; + 502 2 518385
Cnel. Julio Enrique Paiz Bolaños
[Salutation: Señor Director]
Director General de la Policía
6 Avenida 13-71
Zona 1, Guatemala, Guatemala
Telegrams: Director Policia
Tel No:+ 502 (2) 20221; 515158
COPIES TO one or more of the following:
Lic. Ramiro de León Carpio
Procurador de Derechos Humanos
Avenida Simeón Cañas 10-61
Zona 2, Guatemala, Guatemala
Padre Andrés Girón León
Comisión de Derechos Humanos
Congreso Nacional de la República
9 Av. 9-48, Zona 1
Diario Siglo XXI
7a Avenida 11-79
Edificio Galerias España, 6o piso
Zona 9, Guatemala, Guatemala
(Association of Police Officers:)
Club de Oficiales de la Policía
21 Av. 12-17 Z 6
(Association of Retired Police
Asociación de Jubilados de la Policía
and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala in your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 19 September 1991.