Sometimes it can take a little longer than expected in order for justice to be served. But there are occasions when fugitives will eventually be caught and made to pay for their crimes.
Take the case of Pedro Pimentel Rios, a former instructor for an Guatemalan elite military unit that took part in the infamous Dos Erres massacre. After the Central American country's 36-year civil war ended he resided in impunity for several years in California. In 2010 he was detained by U.S. immigration authorities and the following year he was deported back to his country of birth.
This week a Guatemalan court found Pimentel Rios guilty for his role in the Dos Erres massacre that occurred thirty years ago and sentenced him to 6060 years in prison:
The sentence against Pimentel Rios may have been largely symbolic since the maximum time in prison under Guatemalan law is fifty years. Yet the three-judge panel decreed that he receive thirty year sentences for each of the 201 civilians killed in one of the worst atrocities of the Guatemalan civil war.
Pimentel Rios became the fifth ex-special forces soldier to be convicted for participating in the Dos Erres massacre where troops "systematically killed hundreds of men, women and children, shooting or bludgeoning them to death and throwing bodies down a well".
"We are pleased with the decision beacuse it is a step forward in the fight against impunity in Guatemala," said the president of a local victims' rights group to the AFP.
Earlier this month a judge ruled that former military ruler Gen Efrain Rios Montt cannot receive amnesty and would be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity. (Efrain Rios Montt was briefly in power but it was under his regime that the Dos Erres massacre took place).
In recent years several other Latin American countries have seen former officials who were in power in the 20th century tried and convicted for various crimes. Ex-Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori is currently in prison after being convicted in four trials on charges of corruption and human rights abuses. Former Argentine strongman Reynaldo Bignone has been sentenced to prison for numerous crimes against humanity including for helping set up a "secret torture center" inside a hospital in 1976.
Video Source - Al Jazeera English
Online Sources - BBC News, CNN, Huffington Post, enlatino.com