Erwin Johann Sperisen Vernon is a Swiss – Guatemalan dual national. He was born on 27th June 1970, is married and father of 3 children. Of wealthy origins, he soon became Security assistant for a mayor after reaching maturity. He was elected Municipal Councilor (Guatemala City) in 2003, for two terms and became Secretary to the Youth Union Party, before concentrating exclusively on matters of security. On 1 August 2004, he was appointed Chief of National Civil Police (Policia Nacional Civil – PNC), a position he held until 20 March 2007. He resigned and left for Switzerland within the month of the police forces’ assassination
of Salvadorian Parliamentarians. He has resided in Geneva, since March 2007.
In August 2010, the Guatemalan authorities issued a warrant for Erwin Sperisen’s arrest.
They furthermore denounced him to the Swiss criminal authorities for his implication in the following crimes:
- extrajudicial executions
- enforced disappearances
- sexual violence
The Canton of Geneva authorities, suspecting his involvement in the Pavón and Infiernito cases, arrested the ex-Chief of Police on 31 August 2012. His arrest was based upon numerous elements of proof:
- testimonies implicating him
- the investigation by The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)
- the Procuradoria de los derechos humanos (PDH) investigation, a Guatemalan state agency investigating human rights violations by the authorities
- the legal case brought against him by an NGO coalition, along with additional information.
He is currently detained in Geneva’s Champ-Dollon prison, without benefiting from the requested parole as he is considered a flight risk. His trial is set to commence on May 15th 2014. The Prosecution accuses him of the murder of 10 prisoners for which he faces life imprisonment.
From 15 May to 6 June 2014, Erwin Sperisen was tried before the Geneva Criminal Court which issued its verdict: Erwin Sperisen was sentenced to life imprisonment for the seven murders committed in 2006, amid an attempt to regain control of the Pavon Penitentiary. However, Erwin Sperisen was acquitted for his participation in the executions of El Infirnito jail fugitives.
He and his lawyers appealed the decision, and his second trial is set to take place in Geneva from 4 to 8 May 2015.