Guatemala: Forensic scientists under threat

Fredy Peccerelli, his sister Bianka Irina and Omar Bertoni Giron de Leon have been threatened and intimidated in a number of incidents in Guatemala City.

The organisation is calling for an immediate and independent investigation and urging the authorities to bring those responsible for threats and harassment to justice.

Fredy Peccerelli, Bianka Irina Peccerelli, and Omar Bertoni Giron de Leon have been involved in exhuming the bodies of people massacred during the campaign against a military regime in Guatemala in 1980s. The excavations by the Forensic Anthropology Foundation were carried out in the absence of any government exhumations program.

Bianka Peccerelli, received death threats on several occasions during March and April 2003, and was also told that she and her friends would be kidnapped.

On 3 April unidentified burglars broke into Fredy Peccerelli house, stealing his passport and important documents concerning the Foundation's work. At the end of April gun shots were fired at his house door.

Omar Bertoni Giron was followed and then robbed by two unknown men. During the robbery the men threatened to kill him. At the same time two cars followed Bertoni until a police car passed by when the attackers and the car left the scene.

Amnesty International said:

'Members of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation and their families must be guaranteed safety. The police must investigate these threats as a matter of urgency. The team's work is an important step towards justice and national reconciliation and must continue.'

Amnesty International is asking UK scientists and medical professional to take action on behalf of their colleagues under threat by appealing to:

President of the Republic of Guatemala
Lic.Alfonso Portillo Cabrera
Presidente de la Republica de Guatemala
6a. Avenida 'A' 4-41, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: 00 502 221 2718

Minister of Interior
Lic. Adolfo Reyes Calderon
Ministro de Gobernacion
Ministerio de Gobernacion
6a Avenida 4-64, Zona 4
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: 00 502 362 0239/362 0237

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