Ex-Guatemalan Police Chief Accused of Extra-Judicial Killings

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The former head of the Guatemalan national police has been arrested for her alleged involvement in several extra-judicial killings in 2009, which prosecutors claim were part of an unofficial social cleansing policy.

Marlene Raquel Blanco, who served as director of the National Civil Police (PNC) and deputy interior minister under former President Alvaro Colom, was arrested on March 23. Several other current and former officials have been arrested in connection with the case. According to an investigation by the UN-backed International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG), Blanco assisted a group of ex-police officers in locating, capturing and killing at least three men in 2009.

Guatemala’s Prensa Libre reports·that the victims were accused of extorting transportation workers in Guatemala City, and that Blanco allegedly provided the killers with logistical support, and may have even ordered the killings herself. Officials in country’s Interior Ministry have claimed that the killings seem to have been orchestrated by a “parallel group” within the PNC, although they would not comment on this group’s continued existence, according to the newspaper.

InSight Crime Analysis

While the allegations of top PNC officials being involved in extrajudicial killings are alarming, the fact that this case was initially begun by the CICIG is a positive sign. As InSight Crime has·reported, the CICIG has proved itself to be a key asset in the fight against organized crime and corruption in the country. That this case has been taken up by government prosecutors is a testament to the level of cooperation between officials and the CICIG, going some way towards assuaging concerns about President Otto Perez’s dedication to cleaning up the judicial branch.

Still, as a figure from the previous administration, Blanco is an easy target for the Perez government. By pursuing her he is tarnishing the legacy of his predecessor and reinforcing his reputation for being “tough on crime,” a hallmark trait of his campaign last year. The real test for Perez’s dedication to the CICIG will be when the commission reveals a case of corruption within his own administration.

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