Switzerland opens probe into ex-Guatemalan police chief

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Swiss prosecutors said Friday they had opened an inquiry into Swiss-Guatemalan national Erwin Sperisen, the ex-police chief of Guatemala who is being hunted over extrajudicial killings.

Sperisen, who resides in the western Swiss city of Geneva, has been accused by Guatemalan authorities of "murder, drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal detention, extortion and drug theft," according to the UN-backed International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala.

Since August 10, authorities of the Central American state have been calling for the arrest of Sperisen and 18 other former members of the police and Interior Ministry over the killing of seven detainees in 2005 and three other prisoners who had fled the prison.

"The public prosecutor of the canton of Geneva has opened an investigation on Erwin Sperisen," the Swiss canton's justice department spokesman Christophe Tournier told AFP, without giving further details.

Amnesty International this week urged Bern to assist Guatemala in the investigation against Sperisen and others.

"To date, nine of the 19 suspects have been arrested," the human rights group noted in a statement.

Swiss Justice Ministry spokesman Folco Galli noted that Sperisen cannot be extradited to Guatemala as he is also a Swiss citizen.

© 2010 AFP

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