GUATEMALA. DEATH SENTENCE COMMUTED
October 17, 2007: Guatemala commuted a death sentence handed down in 1999 to 40 years in prison this week, in compliance with a 2005 ruling issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
In May 1999, Ronald Ernesto RaxcacĂł was sentenced to death for kidnapping an eight year old boy under article 201 of the Guatemalan Penal Code that was modified in 1996 so that it automatically imposes the death penalty for kidnapping regardless of whether the victim suffers any harm at all, and does not allow the judge to consider attenuating circumstances.
The case was referred to the Inter-American Court in September 2004. RaxcacĂł was found guilty of the August 1997 kidnapping of eight-year-old Pedro Alberto de LeĂłn, who was seized while waiting for the school bus near his home in the capital. The boy was rescued the following day by the police. This is the second time the Guatemalan state has implemented an Inter-American Court sentence.
In June 2006, FermĂn RamĂrez, who was convicted of the rape and murder of a 10 year old girl, also had his death penalty commuted to 40 years in prison. (Sources: IPS, 19/10/2007)