Guatemala convicts first suspects in drug-related attack that killed 15 passengers on bus

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Guatemalan gets life sentences in bus massacre

GUATEMALA CITY — A man found guilty of killing 15 passengers on a bus that was then set on fire during a drug-related attack two years ago has been sentenced to multiple life terms.

In reality, though, Juan Carlos Policarpio can only remain in prison for a maximum of 50 years under Guatemalan law. He is in his late 30s.

Policarpio and another man, Rony Terraza, were convicted and sentenced Monday. Terraza was sentenced to three years in prison.

On Tuesday, authorities arrested a former police officer in connection with the November 2008 attack and are seeking seven more people in the case.

An investigation found Policarpio was a member of a gang looking for cocaine supposedly stashed in secret compartments throughout the bus, which was found burned along an unpaved road in a mountain valley just east of Guatemala City.

The bus was on a charter route to Guatemala and carried Nicaraguan vendors who would buy goods to sell at home. Also aboard was one Dutchman.

All the dead were found in their seats, shot before the bus was set on fire, authorities said.

The case was investigated with help from the United Nations’ International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, whose chief resigned Monday after accusing the country of not doing enough to help fight crime and corruption.

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