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Fugitive Guatemalan official arrested

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Fugitive Guatemalan official arrested
  • NEW: Carlos Vielmann is freed on bail
  • Vielmann turned himself in to authorities is Spain
  • He is wanted in connection with illegal killings in Guatemala
  • Vielmann made his initial appearance in court

Madrid, Spain (CNN) -- Carlos Vielmann, a former Guatemalan interior minister wanted on charges of extrajudicial killings, was arrested in Spain on Thursday for the second time in two months.

A Spanish prosecutor had issued a new arrest warrant for Vielmann on Wednesday, a National Court spokeswoman told CNN.

Vielmann turned himself in to authorities in Spain on Thursday morning, said his attorney, Francisco Palomo.

Vielmann faces charges in both Spain and Guatemala stemming from the same incident, a 2006 uprising at the El Pavon prison in Guatemala where seven inmates were killed.

The Interior Ministry and police said at the time that the prisoners were killed during a violent confrontation with prison authorities. However, a report by the Guatemalan Human Rights Ombudsman's Office concluded the prisoners had been executed.

Vielmann is wanted in Guatemala in connection with the seven killings. He also has been accused of ordering the killings of three inmates who escaped from El Infiernito prison in 2005.

Vielmann was arraigned Thursday at a closed-door hearing before Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska, who charged him with crimes against humanity and seven murders but released him on 100,000 euro bail ($132,000), ordering that he turn in his passports and report weekly to authorities, said the court spokeswoman, who by custom is not identified.

Spain first arrested Vielmann on October 13 on a Guatemalan warrant, but a Spanish judge released him 40 days later for lack of an extradition request.

Guatemala investigates prison executions

Vielmann argued at the time he should be released because he holds Spanish citizenship in addition to Guatemalan citizenship, the court spokeswoman said.

While the first arrest warrant, from Guatemala, charged him as a Guatemalan for the alleged crimes, the second arrest warrant, on Wednesday, charged him as a Spaniard for allegedly committing those same crimes while abroad, the court spokeswoman said.

Earlier this week, the head of the U.N.-backed commission that spearheaded the charges publicly shared photographs that he said could be evidence that Vielmann was at the site of the killings and had ordered them.

In an interview with CNN en Español on Thursday, Vielmann said that the seven prisoners were killed in a confrontation.

"I have never broken the law," he said, adding that his opponents were taking the incident at El Pavon out of context.

He said he has not fled from the legal system, and simply wants to appear before a court where there is a presumption of innocence. He also said he wants the evidence heard in court, not in public through the media.

He called the pictures released by the U.N.-backed commission "a game of photos."

CNN's Al Goodman and CNN en Espanol's Maria Elisa Callejas contributed to this report.