Saturday, December 31, 2011

Guatemalan Judge Survives Assassination Attempt by Gunmen in Two Vehicles

Guatemalan Judge Jose Eduardo Cojulum was wounded on Friday (December 30) when gunmen traveling in two vehicles fired simultaneously at the judge's vehicle. The incident occurred on the Palin-Escuintla highway in southern Guatemala.

COMMENT: Judge Cojulum said in a telephone interview with a radio station that the attackers followed him for more than 30 minutes before they started shooting and then fled after he rammed one of their vehicles. Speaking from a hospital, he rejected the notion that his assailants were common criminals.

Conversely, the judge, who is presiding over several cases related to human rights violations by the armed forces during Guatemala’s 1960-1996 civil war, firmly believes that these cases are the motivation behind the attack on him. The judge no doubt in correct in his instinct, particularly considering that well over 200,000 people were killed during the civil war, most of them disadvantaged poor.

It should be noted that many former senior military and police officials were implicated in human rights violations during the war, all of whom have a lot of motive to stop judicial reviews. Although the judge obviously has had training in countering vehicular attacks, the Government of Guatemala should promptly assign an experienced security detail to the judge on a 24/7 basis.

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