MIAMI (Reuters) - A former Guatemalan soldier was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Thursday for concealing his role in a 1982 massacre of peasants by the army in his homeland when he applied for U.S. citizenship.
Gilberto Jordan, 54, pleaded guilty to the charge of unlawfully procuring his U.S. citizenship in July. The 10-year sentence was the maximum penalty he faced under U.S. law.
As part of his sentencing, federal district court Judge William Zloch also ordered that Jordan’s citizenship be immediately revoked.
In calling for the maximum prison sentence, prosecutors had stressed that Jordan lied on his naturalization application about what later emerged as his leading role in the massacre in the Guatemalan village of Dos Erres.
“Defendant’s lies during the naturalization process concerned not trivial matters, but rather, his participation in the murder of at least 162 innocent men, women and children,” said a court filing from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
It said Jordan had also admitted that the first person he killed in Dos Erres, and the first of the 162 victims, was a baby he murdered by throwing it into a well.
A court-appointed defense attorney for Jordan declined to comment on the sentence when contacted by Reuters.
In Guatemala, human rights campaigners representing Dos Erres massacre victims’ families have said they are seeking Jordan’s extradition to the impoverished Central American country.
According to the U.S. court documents, members of the so-called Kaibiles special forces patrol Jordan belonged to raped many of the women and girls at Dos Erres before killing them. Approximately 162 skeletal remains were later exhumed.
The Guatemalan military killed leftists and perceived rebel sympathizers with impunity during the country’s long-running internal conflict. A peace accord brought an official end to the conflict in December 1996.
Reporting by Tom Brown, Editing by Anthony Boadle