Notes from the Evidence Project: Remains of Three Death Squad Diary Victims Identified
By: Kate Doyle and Emily Willard
Today in a press conference, the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (FAFG) announced the identification of three more victims of the disappearances carried out by Guatemalan security forces in the mid-1980s and chronicled in the notorious Death Squad Diary, a logbook kept by Guatemalan military intelligence. They are Juan de Dios Samayoa Velásquez, Hugo Navarro Mérida, and Moisés Saravia López. The remains of the three men were among 220 bodies discovered during an exhumation of the former military base in Comalapa, Chimaltenango, during 2003-05. Their identification was only recently made possible through FAFG’s DNA laboratory.
In November of 2011, the remains of the first two victims associated with the logbook were identified, Amancio Samuel Villatoro and Sergio Saúl Linares Morales. Forensic anthropologists found the skeletal remains of all five men in the same gravesite on the Comalapa base. According to the Death Squad Diary, the victims – kidnapped at different times under different circumstances – were secretly killed on the same day by their captors. The date of their executions is indicated in pencil, handwritten under their typed entries, as March 29, 1984. A sixth set of skeletal remains found in the Comalapa grave has yet to be identified.
Families of those disappeared during the Guatemalan conflict have been searching for answers about the fate of their loved ones for decades. The identification of the remains of the victims permits family members to carry out burials and mourn their deaths at last. It also provides critical new evidence for human rights cases. A collective case based on the crimes documented in the Death Squad Diary is scheduled to go before the Inter-American Court on April 25, 2012. Both the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala and the National Security Archive will provide expert testimony in that case.
Juan de Dios Samayoa – Death Squad Diary entry number 78
Hugo Navarro Mérida – Death Squad Diary entry number 81
Moisés Saravia López – Death Squad Diary entry number 88