Tuesday, January 20, 2015

One of General Noriega's cronies claims violation of his human rights

Evidelio Quiel Peralta, a former Captain in the Panamanian military and a fugitive who was tried and sentenced in absentia for five of nine killings carried out by General Manuel Noriega's firing squad, is free because Vice President and Foreign Minister Samuel Lewis Navarro did not file an official request for extradition within the required 90 days. Quiel Peralta was one of the officers involved in the "Albrook Massacre" in which nine members of the defunct FDP (Fuerzas de Defensa de Panama), which tried to topple Noriega in a coup attempt on October 3, 1989, were executed. On December 20, 1989, two months later, the US invaded Panama and deposed General Noriega. The trial of the Albrook Massacre started on June 5, 1995 and ended on July 13, 1997, and the Court sentenced General Noriega to 14 years in prison and his three aides -- Gonzalo Gonzalez, alias Chalo, Asuncion Gaytan and Evidelio Quiel -- in absentia, to 20 years in prison each for their involvement in the Albrook massacre. The French extradited Noriega to Panama on December 11, 2011 where he was wanted for three separate criminal convictions. He is serving three sentences in El Renacer Prison. Quiel was captured in July 2014 in Costa Rica in a joint operation that involved Interpol, Costa Rican and Panamanian police.

The Costa Ricans reportedly wanted a promise from Panama that Quiel would get a new trial. The Panamanian Government never responded to the request and reportedly doesn't want to get involved in retrying him. Quiel Peralta escaped to Costa Rica in 1997 and was granted residency in 1999. On Monday, January 19, 2015, Quiel Peralta installed himself in front of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in San Jose, Costa Rica, because he wants the Inter-American Court to annul his conviction and 20 year sentence. He claims that he had nothing to do with the massacre. His lawyer says that "This is a case of human rights, Mr. Quiel was convicted in absentia and this is against the most elemental principles of the right of defense, it also offends the American Convention on Human Rights."

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