September 23, 2016
Orlando López has investigated some of the worst crimes committed during Guatemala’s bloody civil war and arrested powerful former military commanders for torture, genocide and forced disappearances.
But the efforts of the senior human rights prosecutor have not gone unnoticed by rightwing groups who claim he is spearheading a leftist conspiracy against the armed forces.
Now, López, 41, has been detained on homicide charges linked to an alleged hit-and-run incident, which his supporters say is part of a wave of malicious litigation against advocates seeking justice over civil war crimes.
The alleged traffic incident was reported by the Foundation against Terrorism, a rightwing group linked to retired military generals, which in recent years has accused dozens of senior judges, prosecutors and human rights activists of crimes including corruption, intimidation and links to organised crime.
“I know that I am here because of the work I have done. It has nothing to do with the traffic incident, this is just an excuse to target me,” López told the Guardian, while waiting handcuffed in Guatemala City criminal court.
López was lead prosecutor in the 2013 genocide trial against the former military dictator Efrain Rios Montt, and in the arrest earlier this year of 18 former army generals for multiple forced disappearances.