Former prison director in Guatemala turns himself over to police in inmate slaying case

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A former prison director in Guatemala accused of participating in the killings of 10 inmates turned himself over to police Friday, authorities said.

Interior Minister Carlos Monocal said police arrested former prison director Alejandro Giammattei inside the Honduran Embassy, where he had sought refuge last week claiming he was the victim of a political persecution. Honduras rejected his request.

Giammattei is one of 19 people accused of being involved in the killings of seven inmates when police regained control of the country's Pavon prison during an uprising there in 2007 and in the alleged execution of three inmates who escaped from the "El Infiernito" prison in 2005.

Nine other suspects have been arrested. Investigators said they include two civilians, two former policemen and an officer still on the force.

Those still being sought include former Interior Minister Carlos Vielmann and former National Police Director Erwin Sperissen. Both are believed to have left Guatemala.

All of the former officials are from the 2004-2008 administration of then President Oscar Berger. His government enacted policies to crack down on violent crime and street gangs, and it was unclear whether the alleged killings were related to that policy.

The U.N International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala, which was established to investigate such cases, said those detained "were part of a criminal organization that was organized within the Interior Ministry and national police since 2004, and which carried out illegal executions."

President Alvaro Colom on Friday said he will ask the United Nations to extend the commission's mandate for four more years.

The U.N. created the independent commission in 2007 at the request of Guatemalan authorities overwhelmed by the scope of crime and corruption. The current mandate expires in September 2011.